Acts 15:1-2 (NIV)
1 Some men came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the brothers: “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.” 2 This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them. So Paul and Barnabas were appointed, along with some other believers, to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question.
If you are a Gentile Christian, prefer a baseball cap over a yamaka, or are simply fond of bacon, then you are fortunate that Acts 15 exists. It is in Acts 15 that the church makes the determination that Gentiles can be Gentile Christians without first becoming converts to Judaism. This was a huge, watershed decision for the church. This was the church making a formal break from Judaism.
It was a difficult decision involving lots of emotion, national pride, and theological debate. But the church, led by the Spirit, took the bold step it knew to be right.
Today there is a move afoot in the Christian world away from the church. “I like Jesus,” they say, “but I don’t like his church.” “I don’t need organized religion.” “Spirituality can be expressed my own way, according to my own dictates.” But it was the church – organized religion – that made shrimp brochette (my favorite: shrimp wrapped in bacon dipped in butter!) available. It was the church that outlined what was and wasn’t heresy. It was the church that preserved for us the Scriptures. The list goes on, but you get my point.
Thank God for the church…organized religion. She might not have been perfect over the years, but she has done some important things right. We’ve got some work to do, of course. As I mentioned Sunday, in my post-election statement, the American church has some things to figure out. But she will…she always has.
Thank you for being committed to Jesus’ church, too. As Pastor Jeff mentioned on Sunday, we’re all feeling the financial pinch of uncertainty here in the U.S., and the church is the first one to take a hit. I keep getting the sense that, as culture continues to digress, only church will be left to fight for morality. That means we hang on with all we got in tough financial times. Let me encourage you to continue giving to the Lord through tithes and offerings…he promises to bless you.