Friday 27 May 2011

Bible Book:

"We have decided unanimously to choose representatives and send them to you, along with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, who have risked their lives for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ." (vv. 25-26)

Acts 15:22-31 Friday 27 May 2011


The story of the Council at Jerusalem continues. The decisionhas been made that male gentile (non Jewish) believers need not becircumcised in order to be part of the Christian community and nowit is time to make sure the churches are informed. A very courteousletter is written, which makes a number of things clear. It offersgreetings and explains that the Council has made its decisionfollowing reports that people with no authority have taken it uponthemselves to disturb and upset gentile believers. So there is anote of censure and judgement against those who have taken uponthemselves an authority that is not theirs. There follows a clearstatement of the authority with which those who bring the letterhave been sent. The full and unanimous support of the Council iscarried by both letter and by trusted and respected members - Judasand Silas, and Paul and Barnabas. The latter two have particularauthority because they have risked their lives for the sake ofsharing the message of Jesus Christ. The letter then goes on tomake clear what the decision of the Council is.

So far in this passage we have issues of authority - who has it andwho does not. Who can speak on behalf of the Church and who cannot?There is also a sense of mischief on the part of those who havestirred up trouble with no good reason (except perhaps their owndeeply held beliefs). What of those who receive this communication?Verses 30-32 show a wonderful picture of joy amongst those who readthe letter and hear it confirmed by Judas and Silas - theseprophets then go on to encourage and strengthen thebelievers.

A time of great anxiety and disagreement is brought to a close, notwith a perfunctory note or a legal document but with a warm letterand a personal visit. Here is something we can use as a model whenthere are times of discord within a church community. Once adecision is reached that resolves a contentious issue, it isimportant to think through carefully how to communicate thedecision and its consequences in a clear and unambiguous way. Thereis a lot to learn from the Acts of the Apostles about goodleadership that is not overly controlling, but is clear indecision-making, good at communication and encouraging to the wholecommunity. This is not just a lesson for local and national Churchbodies but in also in business, education and politics.

To Ponder

What would you identify as marks of goodleadership?

Who do you think should have authority within thelife of the Church?

How can you encourage and strengthen others intheir faith?

Previous Page Thursday 26 May 2011
Next Page Saturday 28 May 2011