Unity and Forgiveness in the Church – Sermon Follow-Up
“The apostles and the believers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him and said, ‘You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them.’ Starting from the beginning, Peter told them the whole story:…When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, ‘So then, even to Gentiles God has granted repentance that leads to life.’”
Yesterday at the North Campus we looked at Acts 11:1-18. In this passage we see the Jewish Christians dealing with the transition from the old covenant established with Israel back in Exodus to the new covenant established in Jesus Christ by His death and resurrection.
One of the things I find quite interesting about this passage is how it starts and ends…
When it starts, a certain group within the church who thought Christians needed to follow all the Jewish laws of the old covenant (including circumcision), attacked Peter for entering the house of a gentile and eating with him. Both of these things were not allowed in the Jewish law and would make Peter unclean. However, but the end of the passage this circumcision group was praising God that in the new covenant even Gentiles were granted repentance, forgiveness, and eternal life.
This group within the church was changed by the testimony of Peter who shared the story of everything that had happened to him. I wonder how this would play out in our churches today. Would the group have still raked Peter across the coals? Would they have responded the same way they did in the Acts passage? Or would they have stormed out the church and gone somewhere where the gentiles were still avoided?
The church is no stranger to conflict. It’s made up of broken, sinful people who sometimes act in broken, sinful ways. However, God’s forgiveness extends to us today and even to the church as a body. God also continues to work in the church through His Spirit in the Word to bring about forgiveness between each other and to bring unity to the church.
The church isn’t perfect. However, when we listen to each other, stay grounded in the Word of God, and extend forgiveness and grace, we see the ministry of Christ at work within the members of the church. In Christ there is forgiveness and healing.
Thank You for the church. I pray that You would bring about unity in the church. Give us the endurance and patience to work through difficulties. Help us to forgive each other as You have forgiven us.
You can watch the full message from Sunday at the North Campus below: