Then the apostles and elders, with the whole church, decided to choose some of their own men and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They chose Judas (called Barsabbas) and Silas, men who were leaders among the believers. With them they sent the following letter: To: The Gentile believers in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia. From: The apostles and elders, your brothers, Greetings. We have heard that some went out from us without our authorization and disturbed you, troubling your minds by what they said. It therefore seemed good to us—after we had come together with one mind—to send chosen men to you with with our beloved Barnabas and Paul—men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, we are sending Judas and Silas to confirm by word of mouth what we are writing. It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements. You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things. Farewell (Acts 15:22-29)
The four requirements sent to the Gentiles were not only a compromise, they were a renouncement of the Gentiles worshipping idols. The animals the Gentiles offered to their gods, were often strangled so the blood was retained, a practice against the laws of Moses. Idol-worshippers were also taught that adultery was okay, but the Sixth Commandment given to Moses says, “You shall not commit adultery.”
At first, it surprised me that the early church allowed those requirements to be sent to the Gentiles since Jesus is all we need to save us. If I were alive back then and hadn’t prayed, I might’ve spoken up and said those requirements were wrong. But Romans 12:2 tells us to let God give us a new mind, so we will know what God wants us to do. And when we do those things, they will be good, pleasing, and perfect.
If the Jewish and Gentile Christians were to be brothers and fellowship together, they needed an agreement of how to cook their meat and the security of knowing that flirting with someone else’s spouse was off limits. I can believe that the Holy Spirit would tell the Gentiles, “You will do well to avoid the practices you used to sacrifice animals to idols and you should also avoid sexual immorality.”
When we have disagreements in our church, family, and/or workplace and find the need to set rules, we would do well to listen to what each family member has to say, pray, and ask the Holy Spirit to have us come together with one mind, His mind. Romans 8:6 says, “If our minds are ruled by the Spirit, we will have life and peace.”
Father God, I praise You for the gift of Your Spirit. Fill me with the power and wisdom of Your Spirit, and let Your Spirit rule my mind with God’s truth so that I will have life and peace. In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.