Acts 15:20 – To what extent does the gospel shape a culture? Some of the Jews were insisting on circumcising the gentile converts. This forced the question, “is Christianity a sect of Judaism or is it something different?” In other words, do converts to Christianity need to become fully Jewish to be fully converted or do the demands of the gospel stop short of converting to Judaism?
The answer was that the gentiles were to be counted as “sojourners” among the Jews in that they were only asked to fulfill the moral aspect of the law (all of this is found in Leviticus 17-18) and not the ceremonial aspect of the law (circumcision). This is part of the reason it’s okay for believers now to eat bacon, shellfish, etc. because these things were part of the ceremonial or national law and weren’t part of the Moral law.
Christianity is not fulfilled by Judaism, it is the fulfillment of Judaism. Circumcision was the rite of passage into the Jewish faith, but that had been replaced by baptism. The result was that Christianity pressed forward and forged an identity apart from Judaism.
The application is this. When encountering a new culture or embracing new believers from our own culture, what are the demands of the gospel and what are our preferences? If we are not careful we will force our preferences on others rather than just pressing the gospel. Some implications to think through would be how we dress to go to church. The style of music we prefer to sing to. Where there offering belongs in the service. etc.
FATHER, Thank you that the New Testament church worked through the struggles it faced. We are grateful for the clarity they provided in helping us understand what it looks like to be a fully committed follower of Jesus. We ask for wisdom in navigating the culture and sharing the gospel in our own generation. We look for humbleness to receive your word and apply it. We ask for boldness to proclaim the gospel to others. Thank you for the grace of leading your people. IN JESUS NAME, AMEN.
What did you take away from today’s reading? What are your thoughts or questions? Feel free to comment below and enter the discussion.