I was reading Acts 15 when I noticed something that I hadn’t ever really paid attention to before. Throughout this debate over whether one must be circumcised to be saved there is a deeper undercurrent of debate whether or not gentiles can be saved at all! Obviously this is no longer an issue of contention in the Church as a whole (else a lot of us would be in trouble [or not, depending on which side of the debate you took, I suppose]), but at the time this was a big deal. As I looked at the names involved in this debate, it wasn’t a random church in the middle of wherever, this was a big enough deal that Peter and Paul had to step in and clarify that gentiles didn’t have to become Jews in order to be saved. At one time, it was a matter of serious discussion among believers whether or not Gentiles could be saved at all!
This whole thing looks pretty silly from our perspective (hindsight being 20/20 and all that), which got me thinking about some other serious issues debated within the Church that now look pretty dumb now. For example, take the Arian controversy (basically that if God the Father begat the Son, the Son had a beginning and was, therefore, not fully God). Now we understand (well, maybe not “understand,” but we take it on faith because the Bible says so) that Jesus is fully man and fully God, a full member of the Trinitarian Godhead, but it was so contested in the Church during the 300s that the Council of Nicea was called to decide whether or not they thought Jesus was fully God. This makes me wonder- what sorts of things do we argue about now that will make future generations will look back at us and wonder what we were thinking? It reminds me of the movie Men in Black, when Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith have this conversation.
How many of the issues that we argue now will seem just as stupid viewed through the lens of history? Paul and Barnabas didn’t just argue, they stated the truth, then got busy WORKING toward telling the gentiles. Maybe we should quit trying to argue about abortion and simply love on hurting pregnant women. Maybe we should stop getting so worked up about how gay marriages are going to destroy the nuclear family, and start having Christian marriages that are different from secular ones, rather than having a similar (and slightly higher) divorce rate than those of the world. Maybe we should be too busy loving on the widows and orphans and lost and dying people all around us to be arguing over TULIP or premillenial dispensationalism (yes, I just used the last one because it’s fun to say).
Maybe we need to be putting a positive good out there, rather than just railing against the evil that surrounds us.
This is totally an indictment of myself as much as anyone else, but what am I doing to show the people around me Christ’s love? Am I known for my love of people, and passion to see them in relationship with God, or am I just known as a guy who can sing, or crack jokes, or whatever else I may do?
Time to change.