Thursday, November 20, 2014

One Accord

22 Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They sent Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, leading men among the brothers, 23 with the following letter: “The brothers, both the apostles and the elders, to the brothers [3] who are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia, greetings. 24 Since we have heard that some persons have gone out from us and troubled you [4] with words, unsettling your minds, although we gave them no instructions, 25 it has seemed good to us, having come to one accord, to choose men and send them to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26 men who have risked their lives for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who themselves will tell you the same things by word of mouth. 28 For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements: 29 that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell. (Acts 15:22-29 (ESV)
“Having come to one accord.” The church in Jerusalem was concerned to hear of what had happened in Antioch. The men that were troubling consciences there had not been sent by them to do this. Now they are sending men to undo what had been done because it needed undoing. The church had come to one accord. It wasn’t that they voted on this, or that one party overruled another but having been led by the spirit to examine the issue they had come to a determination of what needed to be done.  But that no more offense would be caused they asked that the gentiles refrain from sexual immorality and some things that Jews would find particularly offensive to their sensibilities.
This caused some confusion later on as there were fewer and few Jewish Christians. Many in the church tried to treat all of these things as moral issues. This letter was meant to address a particular situation and wasn’t meant for all times and in all places. That they had to write concerning sexual immorality, though, shows just how rampant that sort of thing was at the time among the Greeks and Romans. Paul has to deal with that issue over and over again in all his epistles, where it is meant for all Christians, at all times.

The real issue at the bottom of all of this is love. How do we show love for one another in Jesus Christ. One aspect of this is trying to behave in a community in such a way that doesn’t cause offense to the other members of that community. The unity of the church is something that matters. That people can learn to get along with one another, even if it means giving up blood sausage at the potlucks. Because if we can’t show love to our brothers and sisters in Christ, we won’t be showing that to others. This is why divisiveness in the church is so harmful, and if we can’t love each other we can’t love God either. 

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