It Seemed Good
08 February 2009
“For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay no greater burden on you than these few requirements…” (Acts 15:28 NLT)
An issue arose in Antioch over whether salvation was by law-keeping or by grace. The matter was taken to the apostles and elders of the Jerusalem church for input. Arguments were presented, Peter spoke from his experience, Paul and Barnabas told what God was doing among the Gentiles, and Jesus’ brother James, the presiding elder, summed things up with a decision that balanced both grace and law with the weight given to grace. This decision was recorded in a letter which was hand-carried to the Gentile believers by two elder-prophets of the Jerusalem team.
What a difference between how decisions were made in the wilderness under Moses’ leadership and in Jerusalem as the gospel spread to the Gentile world! Throughout the books of Exodus and Leviticus, policy-setting was “As the Lord commanded Moses,” and “As Moses commanded.” In the Jerusalem council, a decision was made establishing for all time that Gentile believers in Christ were not required to be circumcised and live according to Jewish law, based on what “seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us.”
I think we’ll always be wrestling with issues of grace and law and with how important decisions are made. Sometimes we’ll have the benefit of “As the Lord commanded,” and sometimes we’ll present the arguments and tell the stories and conclude that “it seems good to the Holy Spirit and to us.”
Right policies, procedures, and operational decisions require clarity on what God has said, Kingdom values, clear and open communication, telling the God stories, allowing the Holy Spirit to speak into the situation, wisdom to sum up clearly, and willingness to go with what “seems good to the Holy Spirit and to us.”
Father, please grow us and guide us as we live our lives in the tension between “The Lord commanded,” and “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us.” Help us to never settle for less. Amen.