“And so my judgment is that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead, we should write and tell them to abstain from eating food offered to idols, from sexual immorality, from eating the meat of strangled animals, and from consuming blood. For these laws of Moses have been preached in Jewish synagogues in every city on every Sabbath for many generations.”
Acts of the Apostles 15:19-21 NLT
So, the outcome of the conflict concerning whether Gentile believers should obey the Jewish law seemed very strange when I first read it. During the discussion, Peter shared their experience of God directing him to the house of Cornelius, a Gentile, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit there.
Paul and Barnabas shared the miracles and life transformations they experienced when they shared the gospel with the Gentiles. Then, James, the brother of Jesus, who was the leader of the Jerusalem Church, gave a ruling concerning how to go forward.
The ruling included a command to abstain from sexual immorality, food offered to idols, and a concession—don’t eat meat with blood in it. The command was obvious—being a follower of Christ meant living a life of purity, and not eating food offered to idols meant not participating in idol worship. The issue of eating meat with blood seemed to be holding on to one part of the law.
I believe this is a concession for the sake of the Jewish believers. As we read about the start of the early Church in the book of Acts, it is clear that eating together was a powerful part of the building of community in the Church. Asking the Gentiles not to eat meat with blood was simply asking them to respect the Jewish dietary practices. In other words, don’t do something that would be offensive to your Jewish brothers.
We should learn from this example that being a follower of Jesus means we will have a behavior change. We will live differently from the world. We will also be careful not to do or say things that might offend a brother or sister in the Lord. We should work to love and respect each other.
Holy Spirit, help me to live a holy and pure life. Help me to live in a way that does not offend my brother and sister in the Lord.
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