“After there had been much debate, Peter stood up . . .” Acts 15:7
Salvation isn’t just an experience of each individual. Rather, each of us are to be attached to the local community of faith. Were Christianity to be a purely individual pursuit, we could declare our freedom in the Lord and follow the impulses of our preferences. But Christians are united in one body, the church, in which we must learn to live and work together.
The problem facing the apostles was uniting the Jews and the Gentile believers in the church. These two groups had different ideas and different customs. Each of their practices were offensive to the men on either side. So, the council had to lay down guidelines in the interest of unity within the church.
The point of the council was that no offense be given nor a stumbling block be put in the way of anyone seeking to know Jesus, and nothing would endanger the unity of the body.
Today, social media has eroded our decorum and decency towards others. We are too quick to send out our opinion, offense, and objections. We’ve grown increasingly insensitive to others. We just want to be heard, to give our two cents, and move on without any regard to the wreckage our words leave behind.
We would do well to remember we are a part of a larger reality – the church. We should not be callous in the exercising of our freedom, stepping on the toes of those who aren’t as free as we are, not for ourselves, but for the many, so that they might be saved. Let’s remember the church exists for the promotion of His kingdom and not our own.
Our freedom in Christ is wide, but the boundaries are drawn by love. Therefore, every concession must be made so that we live in unity, so that we can give of ourselves without a distraction to the work of God.
What freedom in your life are you willing to limit in order for others to see Christ more clearly?