Some people believe holding on and hanging in there are signs of great strength. However, there are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go and then do it. – Ann Landers
Culture clashes are as inevitable as wrinkles, parking tickets, and rush-hour traffic. Tension resides in the differences between people when something transitions from old to new. The same is true within the church, where we desperately hold on to our tribal rules that have nothing to do with the Gospel – and there are times when it takes much more strength to let go of these rules rather than hang on.
Here’s the deal: Since its infancy, the body of Christ has debated what it means to be a follower of Jesus. As Christianity poured out of Jerusalem, the words they used to describe the Gospel came from their tribal Jewish heritage: Jesus became the Passover lamb. Jesus fulfilled the law. The heart should be circumcised and tender toward God.
But then the new non-Jewish audience embraced the Gospel. These Gentiles knew little of Jewish customs and terminology. Food laws were foreign, Jewish festivals irrelevant, circumcision not practiced, and the Sabbath was just another day.
Bam! A clash between old converts and new converts ensued. Many Jews insisted that Gentiles were not acceptable to God until they acted Jewish too.
But God had something new in mind. In a vision on a rooftop, the Lord showed Peter that the way of acceptance was the way of unity.
“Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” (Acts 10:15)
Later, Peter witnessed the Spirit of God pour out on a room full of Gentiles, and he understood that it is impossible to invite people in when we require adherence to rules that keep them out.
“So then, even to Gentiles God has granted repentance that leads to life.” (Acts 11:18)
It’s really simple.
One Gospel: God accepts all who are in Christ.
One body: In Christ, there is neither Jew nor Gentile.
One rule: In Christ, love others as God loves you.
Lord, I can’t love others like You love me. Give me Your love and acceptance for those who don’t adhere to my arbitrary tribal rules. Today, Lord, guide me into places and relationships that are outside my norm. Teach me how to invite the outsiders in so that they, too, may know You cherish them. Amen.