May 23, 2012

Change Is in the Air

Acts 15

“It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements … .”
—Acts 15:28


The early church was struggling to decide how they would welcome new believers who had never been part of the Jewish tradition. The major issue was whether Gentile believers would need to be circumcised. Circumcision had been the sacramental-type sign of being an Israelite (Jew) since the time of Abraham. Some did not think the old sign was necessary, but many argued to maintain the practice.

After gathering the church leaders together, the apostles and elders decided that new believers did not need to be circumcised. Instead, they would need to observe certain dietary restrictions and refrain from sexual immorality.

The list of requirements for believers is striking. They did not restate the Ten Commandments, nor did they send a comprehensive list of cleanliness laws. They offered the new believers a short list of instructions that would help them grow. No one believed this list would make anyone perfect. The purpose of these instructions was to help the new believers begin to align their lives with God’s plans for them.

The habits or disciplines we practice do not make us perfect, but they do help us walk with God and begin to experience his power to transform us.

Holy Spirit, help me to walk within your will so that I may be transformed to be more like Christ, in whose name I pray. Amen.

About the author — Bill Sytsma

Bill Sytsma is a graduate of Calvin Theological Seminary (M.Div) and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (D.Min). He is the author of the book Follow the Leader and is serving as the pastor of New Life Christian Reformed Church in Highland, Indiana. He and his wife, Staci, have hosted support groups for families built through adoption. He and Staci are the proud parents of three active boys: Luke, Isaac, and Nico.

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