Acts 15:22-35: ‘No blessing without bleeding.’

“22 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. 23 With them they sent the following letter:   The apostles and elders, your brothers, To the Gentile believers in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia: Greetings.                                                                                                                                                                              24 We have heard that some went out from us without our authorisation and disturbed you, troubling your minds by what they said. 25 So we all agreed to choose some men and send them to you with our dear friends Barnabas and Paul – 26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 Therefore we are sending Judas and Silas to confirm by word of mouth what we are writing. 28 It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: 29 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.                                                                                                                                                                          30 So the men were sent off and went down to Antioch, where they gathered the church together and delivered the letter. 31 The people read it and were glad for its encouraging message. 32 Judas and Silas, who themselves were prophets, said much to encourage and strengthen the believers. 33 After spending some time there, they were sent off by the believers with the blessing of peace to return to those who had sent them. 35 But Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, where they and many others taught and preached the word of the Lord.”NIVUK

 

As we approach Easter 2017, today’s reading speaks of the need to be Cross-centred and Spirit-led.

  1. Cross-centred: See verse 26. Someone said that ‘Christianity that costs nothing accomplishes nothing.’ There can be ‘no blessing without bleeding.’ Not all Christians live in societies where their lives may be on the line because of their beliefs. But a true believer ‘risks’ his/her own life every single day, in that they are prepared to sacrifice what they would naturally, normally choose in order to follow Jesus. The Cross is an event in history; but it is also our calling. It’s a disciple’s way of life.

  2. Spirit-led: See verse 28. There are those times when something just seems right to the Holy Spirit, and there is no jarring in our own spirits as we consider it. There is a harmony between what we sense the Holy Spirit is saying, and our own inner feelings. There is just peace – no disturbance at all.

The way of the Cross and the way of the Spirit are one. If we want to be filled with the Holy Spirit we must also embrace the cross.

Warren Wiersbe tells the story of a missionary wandering around a religious fair in Brazil. He came across one booth bearing the sign ‘Cheap Crosses.’ He thought, ‘Yes, but my Lord’s Cross was not cheap, and neither will mine be.’

PRAYER: Lord, enable me to walk in step with your Spirit – whatever the cost.