Acts 15: 19-21 “It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. For the law of Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.”
Admittedly, it can be easy to hang too tightly to the symbols of our faith. In Acts 15, for instance, the early church has a dispute about whether or not Gentiles should have to adopt one of the main Jewish symbols of covenant - circumcision. (It’s worth reading through the entire chapter just to get a sense of how the early church handled disagreements like this one.)
As you can see in today’s passage, the church leaders ultimately decided that the symbols really were nothing more than that - symbols, which were not intended to take the place of the covenant they were meant only to symbolize. So, rather than allow the the act and marker of circumcision to cause confusion and act as an obstacle for Gentiles, they took the requirement away.
Yesterday we brought to mind the markers of God’s faithfulness in our lives. Today, consider if any of those markers have taken the place of the covenant you have with God. Are they helpful markers and rituals, or are they distracting you from the actual covenant he has made with you?
P.S. Close readers might notice that there are a couple symbols (like not eating meat from strangled animals or that has been sacrificed to idols) that the early church leaders still required of the Gentiles. Don’t worry. I saw it too. We’ll look at them tomorrow.