As much as I respect the apostle Paul, there are times I’m not sure I’d really like him in person.
He wasn’t afraid to engage in conflict, while I’m a peacemaker at heart.
He was single-minded. Get that guy on a track and he was focused on the finish line while I want to run with the team.
He was obviously a poor speaker if people fell asleep and plunged to their death because he was so long-winded. ♥ (You know I’m kidding but see Acts 20:9 for this fascinating tidbit.)
We could take this train of thought and run with it in today’s church.It might sound like this:
I like this way of worship, but they want to do it their way.
I think they should be more spiritual/less spiritual/more authoritative/less bossy/more inclusive/less liberal. . .
They don’t look like me/sound like me/do things the way that makes me feel comfortable. . .
Rather than building a powerful church to defeat a common enemy, we’re pointing fingers and saying, “Be like me.”
In today’s study, Paul is breaking down barriers between the Gentile believers and the Jews.
In that time, his words were shocking. There had always been division.
He was showing both the Jews and the Gentiles how to come together to serve as a dwelling in which God would live by his Spirit.
What a beautiful definition of the church!
Let’s pause for a second. The church is a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit!
The church. . . Us. All of us who believe that Jesus is Savior and Lord.
There are too many things that divide us. Can we be honest about that for just a moment?
Money, whether it’s too little or too much
God is building a home. He’s using us all—irrespective of how we got here—in what he is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now he’s using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together. We see it taking shape day after day—a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home. Ephesians 2:19-22 (The Msg)
Today’s assignment is to read Ephesians 2:11-22. Read it in at least two to three different versions.
Next, read Acts 15:1-11. Paul is working through a pretty heated division.
- In Acts, note how human nature says, “Be like me.” In one sentence, describe the problem.
- How did Paul and the elders handle the conflict? What does this teach us?
- Division can be defined as labeling someone who as “not enough.” They don’t measure up for whatever reason. When this happens in the church, what is the potential impact?
- What is one tangible thing that we can do if we are the one who desires that everyone be “like me?”
Paul and I might not have similar personalities, but God used this man in ways that I’ll never achieve. He loved Jesus and people spectacularly. The very things that might rub me the wrong way were instruments in God’s hands.
He was amazing!
Our God is a master of creation and creativity — there are 20,000 species of butterflies alone — and he made each of us unique.
What might happen if we stopped building barriers and started building a strong church?
Over the weekend, go back to a study that you didn’t get to spend as much time as you wish. Just read. Pray. Thank God for the power of the Word. If there’s application, ask God for wisdom on how to live it.