ARISE O LORD!

ACTS 15:1-2 But some men came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” 2 And after Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them,  Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and the elders about this question.
ACTS 15:25 ...it has seemed good to us, having come to one accord, to choose men and send them to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul...
Here in Acts 15, we have a major dispute within the church.  Do the Gentile believers have to be circumcised? The more I begin to rationally think about it, it only makes sense.  Anytime you have an attempt at oneness, it will be the fruit of a willingness to wrestle with differences.  In the book of Acts, you see the issue with the Hellenist and the Hebrews...you see the issue here with whether or not the Gentiles should have to be circumcised...and you even see later Paul and Barnabas dispute about whether or not to bring John Mark on their missionary journey.  Conclusion: "dissension and debate" will arise even within the church.  It's par for the course.
But...it doesn't stop there.  "Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and the elders about this question."  The church appointed leaders to wrestle and work through and discuss the issues.  When there were issues with the Hellenists and the Hebrews concerning the daily distributions to their widows, the church appointed deacons to work through this.  They appointed people full of the Holy Spirit to wrestle with tough issues.  Do we have those in the church today? Where are the people walking in the fullness of the Spirit to deal with the tough issues that threaten to divide the people of God? 
And so, after they had discussed and debated these issues at the Jerusalem Council, the text says..."it has seemed good to us, having come to one accord..."  They came to one accord.  How? Men full of the Holy Spirit and His wisdom wrestled for a season with the problem.  The problem is only the beginning.  The story is not over yet.  There are issues that try to threaten the unity of the church worldwide.  But it is now time for the men and women of God full of the Spirit to step onto the scene.  
May these people not miss their cue and their moment.  I pray they have not grown weary or distracted.  When we see the turmoil in the world begin to spill over into the church and in our own personal lives...may the Spirit of the Lord, the Spirit of unity... rise up within us with a response.  ARISE O LORD, ARISE WITHIN ME!

by Marc Stern

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