Community: What Does It Look Like? | Acts 15:7-8
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. God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us.
The early church had much discussion on whether or not Gentiles (non-Jews) should be accepted into the church. For non-Jews to have equal spiritual opportunities was difficult for many to grasp, after the rich Old Testament history of God’s work through the nation of Israel. But in today’s passage, Peter sets the record straight. Through the cross, Jesus provides everyone access to God and equal standing before him.
While we are beyond the Jew-Gentile thing, the church still struggles with issues of acceptance today. Let’s face it. Many church communities are made up of people from fairly similar ethnic and economic backgrounds. And for that matter, many communities are made up of those on the same leg of the spiritual journey. Is that because our church culture attracts such people, or our church culture lets others know that anyone not at a certain spiritual level is not welcome?
Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “If my sinfulness appears to me to be in any way smaller or less detestable in comparison with the sins of others, I am still not recognizing my sinfulness at all…. He who would serve his brother in the fellowship must sink all the way down to the depths of humility” (Life Together, 96). The Apostle Paul made it clear that we should “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God” (Romans 15:7).
Father, help us to be as accepting of others as you are of us. In Jesus name. Amen.