Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Acts 15 -- Religious Burden

Here in Acts 15 we have the first big church meeting around a divisive issue. The issue, whether Gentiles, all non Jews, need to be circumcised in order to be Christian. The process here is amazing, the case is presented, the elders, church leadership, discusses and debates, then they issue the proclamation. What is it the leaders said, there is not requirement of circumcision for the Gentiles.

There was no grand listening campaign. They did not take a survey of the constituents. They sough the Lord and allowed the Holy Spirit to be their guide. Once they had their decision they issued the statement of how things would be. It came down to not wanting to place a religious burden on people. What matters most according to the elders is the acceptance of the grace given and faith in the giver of the grace. Not some external mutilation. Not some religious ceremony. Rather the condition of the heart.

What are the religious burdens you are under? Do they really help you develop a closer relationship with God, or are they simply activities which are done because that is how it has always been done? While the presenting issue of Acts 15 is circumcision, the real issue is religious burdens. The leaders of the early church did not want to establish religious burdens, especially in light if the freedom Christ offers. It was clear God was moving in the lives of Gentiles, and the people of Israel were not an exclusive group. God was doing something much bigger than religion.

Seek out the things in your life that are religious burdens. Once they have been identified ask a key question, are these things helping with the ongoing transformation of my life?

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