My husband…every now and then will call me JoAnne. Now JoAnne is my mom’s name, and it is a great complement to be compared with my mom. But when he calls me JoAnne it is because I’m being a legalist. (It’s a family joke…my mom knows about it too!) My mom trusted Christ with her heart and life in 1979. She grew spiritually at a church where there were a lot of rules. There were rules about everything, and it was safe to my mom. She enjoyed being told exactly how to live after living without rules for 29 years.
Rules aren’t bad. We all need them. Our homes need them. Our city needs them. Our country needs them. Rules can go too far though when it comes to our spiritual life. People always think church equals rules, but Jesus came to bring us freedom. There are rules we need to live by, but God gave us all we need in His Word so no one needs to add any extra rules. The laws of God help us live a good life and show us how amazing our God is. The laws don’t make God love us more. The rules don’t make us more righteous.
In Acts 15 the church is struggling with rules. As Gentiles accept Christ, Jews in the church started to have questions. These groups have very different backgrounds. They look at their new life in Christ differently. Shouldn't the Gentiles live by Jewish law? There was a group that said, “Unless you are circumcised as required by the law of Moses, you cannot be saved.”(vs.1) “Paul and Barnabas disagreed with them, arguing vehemently…”(vs.2) Sounds pretty serious! A group met in Jerusalem to talk through this issue. Peter said, ”So why are you now challenging God by burdening the Gentile believers with a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors were able to bear? We believe that we are all saved the same way, by the undeserved grace of the Lord Jesus.”
We…like the Jews and Gentiles in Acts 15 all come from different backgrounds. What we have been taught affects how we look at the Bible, but we need to be careful. We all need to look at what God actually says- not what we think or what our family or church background has ingrained in us. So is there “stuff” that you do-just because? Is there “stuff” you are burdened with that God never intended you to carry? My prayer this week is that we would enjoy our freedom in Christ.