“But some men came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, ‘Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.’ And after Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and the elders about this question... The apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider this matter. After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said… ‘We believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.’
“All the assembly fell silent, and they listened to Barnabas and Paul as they related what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles. After they finished speaking, James replied, ‘Brothers, listen to me. Simeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take from them a people for his name… Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God [about circumcision]...‘ Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They sent Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, leading men among the brothers… And Judas and Silas… encouraged and strengthened the brothers with many words. And after they had spent some time, they were sent off in peace by the brothers to those who had sent them.” Acts 15:1-2,6-7a,11-14,19,22,32-33
“By wise guidance you can wage your war,
and in abundance of counselors there is victory.” Proverbs 24:6
Paul, Barnabus, James, Simeon, Judas, Silas. Apostles, elders, church leaders. These brothers in the Lord, with different experiences and perspectives, were used of God to lead debate to an agreed-upon conclusion, and then disseminate encouragement among the churches. How beautiful is the body of Christ, working as a team to resolve differences, formulate decisions, and communicate information that brings understanding, as well as the gospel that brings life.
It is vital to church harmony to recognize where dissension stems- in wrong information, personal preferences, or a misunderstanding of scripture. Then we’re able to consider wisely all the information gathered, and listen and discuss with open hearts and a lens of love. The Holy Spirit can use many voices and views to bring understanding and unify His people, with the goal of building up His church in strength and insight. (Ephesians 4:11-16)
When we are privy to disagreements, or perhaps have one ourselves, do we murmur, complain, or gossip about those who see things differently? Do we dismiss concerns someone else has about a church position, a misunderstood teaching, or a destructive practice? Or do we take these situations to the Lord, and ask for wisdom in resolving them? Are we then humble and brave enough to address the matters, to speak truth in love, with full intent to reach agreement and as a team spread truth that brings spiritual growth? (Psalm 133:1-3)
What part do we play in encouraging other team members at church? How are we actively upbuilding? What words, activities, or service do we eagerly contribute to strengthening our local body? Into whom are we pouring courage by our words, role model, and prayers? (1 Corinthians 12:4-13)
Father, teach me effectiveness and Christ-like love as a team member who contributes to building up Your church. May our spiritual maturity and Your glory be my undiluted aim.