In the current world we live in, we are constantly bombarded with information from all angles. The information need not necessarily be “bad,” but it can be contradictory and confusing. And very often, we are pressed to make decisions based on this information we receive. How, then, should we approach our decisions?
Acts 15 provides us with an approach taken by the early church, which was similarly facing a situation with multiple seemingly true but very contradictory perspectives. Let us reflect on this approach, and how it might apply in our lives today.
a. What was the decision that the early church had to make? Why was it difficult?
b. What was Peter’s contribution to the discussion? Why was it important?
c. Have you ever experienced reminders of God’s encounter with you in the past that helped to resolve your decision-making in the present? Share in the group.
a. Why did Barnabas and Paul talk about “the signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them”? How did it help the early church make a decision?
b. How did James settle the matter at hand?
i. Why did he need to quote the writings of the prophets? Were not the experiences of Peter, Barnabas, and Paul sufficient?
ii. Why did James still suggest placing requirements on Gentile Christians in v 20-21? Was this a compromise? Why or why not?
c. What principles can we gather in James’ handling of the matter in relation to decision-making? How, then, might these principles look like in practice?
a. What might unity look like in your decision-making?
b. With reference to the church, what are you doing to strengthen the unity of the church today?
c. Are there any areas in which we need to repent of the way we have treated others or how we have behaved? Spend a few moments before God to search and respond to His leading.
WHAT WILL YOU DO
In the end, what matters is not only the substance of what we decide to do, but also if we have decided in a way marked by love, just as Jesus mentioned in John 13:35 and Paul mentioned in 1 Corinthians 13:1-3. What would you commit to doing today to show more of God’s love to someone or the community God has placed you in? Would you stay true to what God has called you to do, in the manner of Jesus who was led by the Holy Spirit and did the will of the Father while He was on earth?
“I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died.” Romans 14:14-15 (NIV)