6 The apostles and elders met to consider this question. 7 After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. 8 God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. 9 He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith.10 Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? 11 No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.” (Acts 15:6-11 NIV)
The first generation of Christian leaders meets to decide how to deal with the new converts who come from outside Judaism. Some argue (who are identified as Pharisees) that they must be circumcised and keep the law of Moses.
Peter responds in this paragraph – God is the primary actor in the salvation of the Gentile Christians and in Peter’s being chosen to share the gospel with them. God accepted them. God gave them the Holy Spirit. God purified them.
In contrast (?) Peter says that the law is a burden no one has been able to bear.
Grace is a part of God’s great action to save – the primary action of God to save?
Today’s passage is one that speaks to me about the church today more than on a personal level. How do we respond to those who come to believe? What burdens do we place on their backs, what expectations do we have that God has not put upon them?
I do struggle myself as do others about what God requires of us at times in terms of behavior. It is not as simple as saying “Do this” or “Don’t do that” although we would like to think so. Even here the apostles struggle to figure out what is right.
I am reminded that Peter tells them that it is God who saves so it is not our place or mine to judge. It is God who gives the gift of the Holy Spirit and not I or anyone who can deny that.
O God of Gentiles and Jews, God of Peter and the Apostles – remind me of the great and simple truths of Peter spoken anew to me today. That you save and you give. I am not to judge nor to burden. The salvation is yours, The gift is yours. The purifying is yours. And to me as well as to all who believe. In the name of Him I pray. Amen.