Acts 15:1 – Certain people came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the believers: “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.” 2 This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them. So Paul and Barnabas were appointed, along with some other believers, to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question. 3 The church sent them on their way, and as they traveled through Phoenicia and Samaria, they told how the Gentiles had been converted. This news made all the believers very glad. 4 When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and elders, to whom they reported everything God had done through them.
5 Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to keep the law of Moses.”
6 The apostles and elders met to consider this question. 7 After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. 8 God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. 9 He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. 10 Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? 11 No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.”
In today’s reading we find that there have been disagreements within Christianity since the beginning. The first major debate within the Church was over the question, “What must we do to be saved?” In the early years, there were some Christians who had previously been Jewish, and they claimed that one must be circumcised to be saved. While the debate on circumcision has long since passed by, Christians have found plenty of other things to put in its place. There are Christians who maintain that one must speak in tongues; Christians who maintain that one must be baptized, and by a certain method; Christians who claim that one must belong to a certain church; and the list could go on and on.
Christians from every era tend to forget that Jesus came to proclaim Good News. In Luke 4:18, while quoting from the prophet Isaiah, Jesus proclaims: “He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free.” What we must realize is that Jesus was referring to the people who were held in religious bondage, who could not see the truth, and who were under a heavy burden. Speaking to such people, Jesus said: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30).
Friends, today let us remember these words of Jesus, and the words of Paul who wrote: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1). What we need is to have faith in the grace of a Savior, and that Savior is Jesus the Christ! Let us stand firm today, knowing that we do not need to adhere to a set of rules, but rather we need to have a relationship with Jesus.
That was Good Stuff two thousand years ago, and it still is today!
Posted by Ramón Torres