Justin Tucker, LHBC Worship Pastor
Acts 15:8-9, 19
8 And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he also did to us. 9 He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith.
19 Therefore, in my judgment, we should not cause difficulties for those among the Gentiles who turn to God,
Do you remember getting your driver’s license? I do. I had driven to a football game one friday night and when it was over my dad was waiting in the parking lot by the truck. When I walked out to that truck after the game and saw him standing there, my heart sank. At first, I thought I had done something wrong and then he explained that he had forgotten to add me to the insurance plan. That new-found freedom that I thought I had was taken away in a moment. I was extremely embarrassed that my dad was there to pick me up but, more than that, the experience of driving was not what I had envisioned it to be. I had placed an expectation on a milestone in life that most certainly did not measure up to what I thought it would be.
This sort of ill-placed expectation isn’t limited to moments, we do the same thing to people. I want you to know that you aren’t the first person to do that though and you surely won’t be the last. In Acts 15 some of the Jewish Christians started telling the Gentile Christian that to be believers, they would need to be circumcised. As you can imagine, this caused quite an uproar. Peter, Paul, Barnabas and James all came to the defense of the Gentile believers though. They reminded all in attendance that circumcision didn’t save anyone, that only the grace of the Lord saves people. Furthermore, James even said in verse 19, that we shouldn’t make it hard for people to come to faith. We can’t make people jump through hoops to come to faith. So often we get the order of things out of whack. We want people to behave a certain way to prove that they believe so that they can belong. That’s not how grace works though. As Christ followers we need to create space for people to belong so they might come to believe and then, from belief, their behavior changes. It’s our responsibility as Christ followers to walk alongside people in their faith journey. Life change takes time. Think about it, it took the disciples 3 years to fully understand who Jesus was and He was with them! Jesus allowed the disciples to belong and as they believed their behavior changed. If that plan was good enough for the King of Kings, maybe we should give it a try too.
PRAYER FOR TODAY:
Lord, help us to see others through your eyes. Help us to see people that you came to save, not to condemn. Fill us with your Spirit and teach us to walk in Your grace. Make us people of compassion that create spaces for people to belong even when they don’t believe. Give us grace to walk alongside people as they begin to believe and their lives begin to change. Thank you Jesus for making it all possible through your sacrifice. It is in Your name we ask all these things, Jesus. Amen.
MEMORY VERSE OF THE WEEK
And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.