One of the hardest things to navigate is a new position. How do you handle the procedures that are in place, the changes needed or implementing the new ways of doing things? Or perhaps you have taken on a new project where you replaced old ideas and have added your new ideas. Then when you present those new ideas you are met with a road block when you’re told that the old ways were the preferred way. I’m sure it caused ill feelings or just plain discouragement. Rest assure that there is no wrong or right way. What there is, is an opportunity for seeing things differently. Ways to reach others who do not see, know or act like you. Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and place for everything. The old ways are great for keeping records, for knowing history and for reminding us of the good old days. It doesn’t mean that there isn’t a place for the traditionalist. There is. The traditionalists are great for keeping our traditions alive, for being our point of reference, for being our guidelines. The newbie gives opportunity for new traditions to be made, gives glimpses of what could be and is a breath of fresh air. Together both can make a great team because together they strengthen each other and build a bond that will stand the test of time.
Act 15 is all about this. Its about giving way to the gentiles so that they too can hear the good news and believe. One of the beauties of being a gentile is that we act and look differently and come from different places too. The best part is that God knows this too and more importantly he knows our hearts. Verse 8 & 9 confirms this, 8“God knows people’s hearts, and he confirmed that he accepts Gentiles by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he did to us.” 9 He made no distinction between us and them, for he cleansed their hearts through faith. These verses confirm God’s plans and it gives permission for change. To go to where the people are. To break from the old ways and to be open to new ways. Many argued that how can the gentiles be transformed if they do not follow the traditions that were in place since Moses? In the days of Moses, the tradition would be that the men would be circumcised to be converted. What would you choose? Thankfully God’s ways are better. He knows what is right and which way is best. It’s confirmed in verses 19 “And so my judgment is that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.” 28 “For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay no greater burden on you than these few requirements: 29 You must abstain from eating food offered to idols, from consuming blood or the meat of strangled animals, and from sexual immorality. If you do this, you will do well.” It calms my heart to know that God seeks to be in relation with us. He desires us to be dependent on him. To be welcomed and converted we must hear the good news and believe. We need to have a change of heart. Turn away from our old ways and allow the Holy Spirit to reside in us. This is open to all.