‘It is my opinion,’ James went on, ‘that we should not trouble the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead, we should write a letter telling them not to eat any food that is ritually unclean because it has been offered to idols; to keep themselves from sexual immorality; and not to eat any animal that has been strangled, or any blood.’ (verses 19,20)
Read Acts 15:12-21
There has always been a blurring of the line between faith and actions when it comes to people’s perceptions of a church. Can someone be a ‘good’ Christian and wear torn and dirty clothes to church? Can a teenager spend the night clubbing, dancing to music with immoral lyrics, and still be welcome in Christ’s house the next morning? Of course, in God’s eyes we are all equal. So
how we view people’s actions comes down to a matter of respect for fellow Christians.
The Bible makes it clear that we are a forgiven people and are not judged by external appearances or dietary habits. Just as Paul and Barnabas had to advise the people of Antioch, those who are secure in their faith must not judge new Christians by the standards they are used to. On the other hand, new Christians should show respect for the ways of the church they have decided to join.
Harmony between Christians comes down to a matter of mutual respect and a recognition that despite our differences we are one in Christ.
Lord, you do not judge me by my outward appearance. Help me not to judge others by my own human standards but to see all people as your people. Amen.
by Kathy Hoopmann, in ‘Guidance for each Day’ (LCA, Openbook, 2002)
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