The Church That Changed
Now the apostles and the brethren who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God.
I can still vividly remember a change that occurred in our household years ago. It was when I took our older daughter to her first day of kindergarten.
If you had watched us from twenty yards away, we would have made the perfect picture. She had on new shoes and was carrying her shiny lunchbox; I was holding her hand as we walked from the parking lot to the school. But if you had come within earshot, you would have discovered that we were actually arguing!
She wanted me to stay in the car, saying, "Daddy, I don't need you to take me to class; I can do this by myself!" And I was saying, "Listen, you might be feeling good about all this, young lady, but I'm not—so why don't you just allow me a little insecurity! Okay?"
I remember that change. She went from a dependent five-year-old to an independent kindergartener.
No change is easy. We naturally resist the rough waters; the upheaval; the emotions; the hardships—there're all cousins to change.
The most difficult changes to make are those involving lifelong traditions and heritage.
I'll be even more specific: changes are hard to accept when it comes to church; when it involves your relationship to Christ; when it affects how you worship.
How about you? Can you do an internal audit of your deeply cherished church traditions?
· Are they biblically based . . . or culturally based?
· Are they resistant to the things Christ resists . . . or are they conformed to your peers' opinions?
· Are they open to the things Christ teaches . . . or are they closed by personal bias?
Let's be honest: were the Lord to have restricted salvation to the Jews only, we would be lost!
Since Israel is God's light to the nations, it was His predetermined plan that this light should shine to the Gentiles. Remember Abraham was given three promises from God in Genesis 12-17:
- He would have the title deed to the land of Israel.
- He would have a great progeny.
- He would be a spiritual blessing to the entire world.
Paul asks in Romans 3:1, "What advantage has the Jew?" His answer was that they had the oracles [Word] of God, and Christ would be born of the natural seed of Abraham, thus fulfilling God's promise to him that he would bless the entire world.
So, what about us? Are we to be a blessing, too? Are we to accept, and even promote, change that brings the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all nations?
Are we to drop cultural barriers for the cause of Christ? Are we to welcome all who are saved into the family of God?
These questions bear answering . . . some traditions bear changing.
Prayer Point: Ask the Lord to give you a heart for people . . . and to help you see where change is needed in your own life. Most of all, ask Him to help you love others as Christ has loved you.
Extra Refreshment: Read Acts 15:1-41, and take note of the actions of the church when God worked among the Gentiles.
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