“Now therefore why are you putting God to the test by placing on the neck of the disciples a yoke that neither our ancestors nor we have been able to bear? On the contrary, we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will” (Acts 15:10-11). I am convinced there will always be some who want to demand certain behavior from people or else they “cannot be saved.” Further, I am convinced that those same enforcers are completely unable to keep the code they are trying to enforce. Oh, and one more thing, I need to be aware of the possibility that I could be the hypocritical enforcer.
“It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God” (Acts 15:19 NIV). Imagine having this mindset toward people, especially “those people,” who are turning to God. What would it look like if we stopped putting up barriers and stopped making it difficult for them. A woman once told me she met with a church leader to request baptism. The leader told her she was “not a candidate for baptism.” He presented her with a lengthy list of demands she must meet before she could be considered a “candidate.” Lord, have mercy.
“Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company” (Acts 15:37-39a). I have found it is much easier to talk about and apply grace to the world than it is to extend it to someone who has disappointed us personally. Interesting to consider side-by-side the accounts of the Paul vs. Barnabas disagreement and the willingness to have Timothy circumcised.