"If You Were Not Like Them..."
Posted: Thursday, June 23
2 Kings 4:18-5:27
Verse of the day:
He made no distinction between us and them, for he cleansed their hearts through faith. (Acts 15:9)
In Acts 15, Gentiles were becoming part of the church and the Jewish born Christians noticed how different those newcomers were from them. Then people from Judea started visiting the churches and demanding that Gentile Christians looked and behaved like Jews by getting circumcised. "If you were not like them, you were not saved."
After unsuccessfully trying to reason with the people from Judea, Paul and Barnabas traveled to Jerusalem to meet with the Apostles and the Elders of the church. After the church’s leadership listened to both parties, Peter stood up and explained that God had shown that a Gentile could become a Christian without being circumcised. The church agreed with Peter.
You may ask, what are you trying to say? This is my point. Today, the church is once again been challenged by differences brought on by diversity. The church today has people who speak several languages, from various races and political affiliations, who have a different taste in music, and who observe unconventional styles of dress.
So, how are we going to respond to the diversity in our growing church? How did the early church handle these issues? What can we learn from them? From their example, we can learn five principles.
1. Recognize that there are Holy Spirit filled, Bible believing Christians who are different than you.
2. Carefully and respectfully listen to others as they express their opinions and explain their arguments.
3. Discern the will of God (aside from your preconceived ideas) by carefully comparing and contrasting what the Bible teaches and the issue at hand.
4. Make a decision congruent with Scripture and the move of God without belittling diversity.
5. Communicate your decision with love and respect but in the power of the Holy Spirit.