Two people agreeing on something is in itself something not to take for granted.
That’s because it is easier to eventually reach a position where disagreement leads to division because of the disunity. That’s just between two people. Imagine what it’s like when the numbers increase.
I was reminded of two incidents in the book of Acts that highlighted just what an achievement it is to gain agreement. The first, seen in Acts 6, was when there was upset and uproar at what was deemed to be the unfair treatment of the non-Jewish widows. The way that agreement was reached to the solution presented is quite remarkable. In as much as it is recorded by Luke without that much in the way of nitty-gritty and detail – the outcome from the process which had the consent of both those affected and the apostles is something that I read and I know could only be successful because of the Spirit of God.
The really fascinating issue, however, which had the potential to cause major havoc in the early church – and which still caused repercussions despite the decision – was the Jerusalem Council referred to in Acts 15. This was a pivotal meeting for the sake of the gospel reaching the Gentiles. The arguments were strong, even after the Cornelius episode where Peter had made it clear that the Gentiles could also embrace this gospel with subsequent Pentecostal experiences as the brethren experienced on that awesome day. Even after all that, there were still some saying that real salvation required adherence to circumcision and the law of Moses. The dispute at Antioch before the argument in Jerusalem highlights how much both sides of the argument were held dearly. To reach agreement on the situation and send a letter to the churches to that effect is no small achievement at all. The role of the Spirit was highlighted even in the letter.
Disagreement has brought on a great deal of stress and turmoil. The church still has an opportunity to show the way to how not just to disagree with grace and civility, but actually how to work with the Spirit towards agreement. Not an appeasement to the cultural norms of the day, but standing with what is still an incredible call to new life through faith in Jesus Christ alone.
For His Name’s Sake
C. L. J. Dryden