Today's reading: Acts 15:1-35
With the dispersing of the disciples across the countryside and the preaching of the Gospel to both Jews and Gentiles, the number of Christ-followers (the "Church") is steadily growing. But as we've all likely experienced, change can be uncomfortable. And many times when change occurs, tension and conflict follow. So it's not too surprising to see some charged emotions and conflict over the differing practices of the Jews and Gentiles as they are now both part of the Body of Christ. The Jewish believers, who are accustomed to following the Law given by Moses, want the Gentile believers to conform to their practices, and specifically the practice of circumcision. But when given the opportunity to speak, Paul respectfully and caringly reminds the Jewish leaders that salvation is by grace alone, and cautions them about imposing rules that are not a requirement for salvation. After listening intently, the group finds a middle ground which results in the encouragement of both the Gentile and Jewish believers.
What did you learn or notice from this account about dealing with differing backgrounds, traditions and/or opinions? How important are tone of voice, words used and listening in a situation when conflict is present and emotions are running high? Tami
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