Well, one thing can be said after today’s reading…conflict in the church is nothing new!
It takes prayer and the Holy Spirit to work it out to the glory of God!
I was intrigued at how the first conflict (about how some were teaching circumcision) was discussed, considered and resolved. I can totally see why the circumcision issue was a big deal! That was THE sign that set God’s people apart from other cultures (that, along with the law). Christians are still set apart from others…..
Now, these Jewish Christians needed to hear from God on how to work that out. I like how the apostles and elders were quoted by Luke saying, “For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements:….” (15:28).
They reached this conclusion by,
1 By bringing the apostles and elders together (v.6)
2 They listened to testimony (v.12)
3 They looked at scripture (v. 18)
What a great model for us to use when making big decisions in our churches!
The second conflict may not have been resolved using the same method, but God was glorified non-the-less. Both Paul and Barney’s ultimate objective was the same, both wanted to proclaim God’s word.
Maybe God wanted to separate these two strong leaders in order to train their respective apprentice in ways that suited their personalities.
Whatever the reason, God used this disagreement to get a “doubling of their labor”, as my footnote put it. Both teams went out and proclaimed the good news!
So…in a way…after looking at these two examples……conflict can be good…..as long as one looks to see how God is involved in it and what he wants to do with it. Conflict can bring about positive change.
What do you think?