When we arrived at Jerusalem, the brothers received us warmly. The next day Paul and the rest of us went to see James, and all the elders were present. Paul greeted them and reported in detail what God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry.
When they heard this, they praised God. Then they said to Paul: “You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews have believed, and all of them are zealous for the law. They have been informed that you teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn away from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or live according to our customs. What shall we do? They will certainly hear that you have come…
Here’s the Apostle Paul, James the brother of Jesus and all the Elders in the Jerusalem church… and they’re having church conflict like I’ll never see!
Thousands of Jewish Christians who are ‘zealous for the Law’ are causing problems in this first century church. Judaizers were adamant that Gentile believers become Jews first in order to receive Christ for salvation. The church leaders has previously written (Acts 15) to the Gentile church releasing them from the requirements of the Jewish Law. But these Judaizers were still present in the church and were about to cause problems for Paul. Legalism is often appealing to the masses. It’s hard to take refuge in Grace sometimes. People feel more ‘secure’ in rules and regulations, it seems.
There has always been church conflict. Seeing how James, Paul and the Jerusalem Elders handle it is encouraging. It also make me realize that I shouldn’t be surprised when conflict arises. People think differently… and not everyone allows the Scripture and the Spirit of God to mold their thinking. That’s me much of the time, too, not just the ‘other people.’ (smile) I need to constantly be tapped into the Source of Wisdom. In the Church Jesus is the Head – so I must function as He determines. I need to bring Him glory as I serve as a leader in His Church.
Lord, You are the Lord. Be glorified by Your people. Be glorified by me! Show Yourself strong and mighty and lead me well. Stand by my side, as you did Paul’s, and say ‘Take courage!’ (Acts 23:11) I am encouraged by Your Presence today. Live Your life through me, I pray.