In Acts 15, we read how some believers in Jerusalem went to the believers in Antioch and told them:
“Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” (Acts 15:1)
With that statement they said, or at least inferred, that the blood of Messiah and His offering was inadequate to save people. This set off a huge controversy among those who were in the Body and a counsel was convened in Jerusalem to address this issue.
The point is not to get into the particulars of the letter that was sent out or to discuss what it means for believers, today. The point is to highlight the contrast between what happens in and with the Body when we are in one accord, and what happens when we are split with dissension.
When the 1st century believers were in one accord, God’s Spirit moved in them, among them and through them, touching the lives of many. As they witnessed of the Messiah, people were saved, healed and delivered from unclean spirits. These are the very things that Christ pointed out to the two emissaries who were sent to inquire of Him by John. His question was “Are you the coming One?” Christ responded, “The deaf hear, the lame walk and the poor have the gospel preached to them, etc.” The disciples were doing the very things the Messiah was sent to do when they were in one accord. How, then, was their ability to live in one accord disrupted? It happened when religious people attempted to impose their views and their interpretation of Scripture on others. Might it be that we have the very same thing going on, today?
It’s a lot easier for us to live in harmony and one accord, when man-made religion is omitted and God-breathed relationships are embraced, starting with the one we have with the Creator. People are certainly welcome to their opinions and their interpretations of how we walk out what is written in the Scripture. In fact, it’s perfectly fine to debate these things, once and awhile. But it is abundantly clear from Acts 15 that, it is important that we be willing to lay aside our opinions and interpretations when the consensus among the Body is that our interpretation might be wrong, especially when it creates unnecessary contention.
It became apparent to the Jerusalem Council that those who desired to place burdens upon the non-Jews with their opinions and interpretations of Scripture were in the minority and were wrong. Consequently, a letter was drafted and was sent to the congregation at Antioch refuting what these other men had told them, much to the relief of the congregants at Antioch. This is not to say that the non-Jewish believers were released from the obligation to obey God’s commandments, but is to demonstrate what happens when we are in one accord and what happens when we are in dissension.
I am of the firm conviction that religion brings dissension and arguments. I am likewise convinced that genuine relationships foster harmony and accord among the brethren. Peter addressed this issue and explained to those who would elevate the role of religion that Godly relationships makes harmony possible:
“Why are you putting God to the test now, by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we have had the strength to bear? No, it is through the love and kindness of the Lord Jesus that we trust and are delivered.” (Acts 15:10-11)
That is how we delivered and that is how we come into a relationship with the Creator. That is how we are saved and, once saved, there is a way that we are to live – in one accord and in one mind. When we are living in that state of being, God works in us and through us that others might be positively affected in their own lives.