Thursday, February 10, 2011
Divide and Conquer or Unite and Thrive.
Acts, chapter 15 shows us that even good Christians part ways over philosophical differences.
The first half of the chapter shows a divide between the old-paths traditionalists, stuck in the Old Testament economy, and the Apostles, who were riding the wave that God had provided. The debate had to do with the Gentiles being saved and their subsequent lifestyle practices. The traditionalists were demanding that Gentiles which became believers must be circumcised and follow the law of Moses.
But the Apostles were averring that even the Jews couldn't keep the law, so why burden the Gentiles with law-keeping while yoking the Apostles, demanding that they add to the message of the gospel? Which, by the way, would no longer be the gospel because the gospel, plus or minus anything, is no longer the gospel, but a perversion.
After a lengthy round table with the elders and the apostles, and a diatribe by Paul, an agreement was made that the Gentiles would be saved by trusting Christ and not subsequently saddled with keeping the law of Moses. Three demands would be made of them, but had nothing to do with their salvation.
1. Don't eat meat that had been offered to idols.
2. Don't eat or drink blood and don’t eat the flesh of animals that had been strangled.
3. Stay sexually pure.
That's it! nothing about going to the movies, eating bacon, worshiping on a particular day, nor the length of the hemline, the hair or the AM service.
Seems we need another Jerusalem conference to determine that the gospel must stand alone in the matter of salvation and that God is more concerned about a relationship than rule keeping.
Split number 2, (verses 36-41) : The great evangelistic team of Paul and Barnabas was divided asunder over what to do with John Mark.
Because he had earlier abandoned the team due to a severe case of mommy-itus, Paul wanted nothing to do with this home boy. Barnabas however, rightly named "son of consolation," still saw much potential in Mark and demanded that he accompany them on the next mission trip. Besides, he was Mark’s uncle.
The argument got so overheated that the team was broken up and there wound up being two evangelistic teams;
Team 1, Paul and Silas,
Team 2: Barnabas and John Mark.
Thus, the old Baptist method of "Divide and Conquer" was employed once again.
The good news is that years down the road, in the twilight of Paul's ministry, he had this to say about John Mark, "Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry." Don’t give up on people for whom God still has a plan.
For those on both sides of misunderstandings and other issues, if they have good and godly hearts, time can and does heal all wounds.