S (Scripture): Acts 15:6 The apostles and the elders gathered to consider this matter [of circumcision]. 7 After much debate, Peter stood and addressed them, “Fellow believers, you know that, early on, God chose me from among you as the one through whom the Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and come to believe. 8 God, who knows people’s deepest thoughts and desires, confirmed this by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he did to us. 9 He made no distinction between us and them, but purified their deepest thoughts and desires through faith. 10 Why then are you now challenging God by placing a burden on the shoulders of these disciples that neither we nor our ancestors could bear? 11 On the contrary, we believe that we and they are saved in the same way, by the grace of the Lord Jesus.”
12 The entire assembly fell quiet as they listened to Barnabas and Paul describe all the signs and wonders God did among the Gentiles through their activity. 13 When Barnabas and Paul also fell silent, James responded, “Fellow believers, listen to me. 14 Simon reported how, in his kindness, God came to the Gentiles in the first place, to raise up from them a people of God. 15 The prophets’ words agree with this; as it is written,
After this I will return,
and I will rebuild David’s fallen tent;
I will rebuild what has been torn down.
I will restore it
so that the rest of humanity will seek the Lord,
even all the Gentiles who belong to me.
O (Observation): The leadership of the Church fathers in Jerusalem for what becomes known as The Jerusalem Council. At the council, circumcision is discussed.Is it necessary – or not – for one to be circumcised before one can become a Christian?
For those who never ventured out to foreign lands nor turned their attention to any wisdom other than their own teachings, OF COURSE one must be circumcised FIRST!
Yet to folks like Peter and Paul and Barnabbas, who remained open to God’s movement and actually paid attention to the Gentile population, they witnessed God inviting ALL people into the fold. So for the disciples and Paul, of course we welcome in all who accept Jesus Christ without the need for circumcision.
What matters are two things: 1.) in the quote from Amos we see above, God has already, from time immemorial, welcomed who all seek to call on God’s name – Jew and Gentile; and, 2.) as Peter claims, we are saved by grace and no work from the Law of Moses.
A (Application): Where do we spend our time? Is it looking only at our own teachings and customs? Or do we spend time in places we aren’t comfortable and learning about religions and customs other than our own?
Seems to me that this text is really, really challenging us to open our eyes to the new thing God has done, is doing, and will do.
When do we ever stop thinking and just get a list of rules to live by as Christians? The answer is: never.
So, we must be ready to listen. How do we do that? With practice.
We listen and share what God has spoken to us. We share with other Christians to confer with other disciples and we move forward in grace.
Most of all, we remember how we got to where we are as Christians: through grace.
P (Prayer): Lord, remind us of our humble nature as Christians. Help us to listen to your voice. Amen.