Galatians 2:7-10 – On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised (for he who worked through Peter for his apostolic ministry to the circumcised worked also through me for mine to the Gentiles), and when James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. Only, the asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.
What church experiences have you had? Have you primarily been in one kind of church, or have you experienced a wide variety of Christian churches?
I grew up attending a Catholic church, which was somber in tone, included a bit of aerobics as we knelt and got up few times, had a really short sermon that as a kid was about the perfect length for a nap, and took communion every week. In college, I attended a chill church where there was a much longer sermon going line-by-line through books of the Bible, a few songs that were pretty laid back, and rarely communion. One Sunday, our church got together to worship with a Charismatic church and I’d never seen the kinds of things they did – like singing a lot of songs very loudly, raising their hands, clapping, cheering, shouting, and some people were even kneeling and weeping.
As a new Christian, I wondered which one of those three kinds of church services were right? Knowing people in each church, I was well aware that in each church were people who hated sin, loved Jesus, and believed the Bible. So, I assumed we were basically all ice cream and just different flavors.
This is the point Paul is driving at in Galatians. Peter, John, and Jesus’ half-brother James stayed in Jerusalem to lead churches mainly made up of Jewish Christians. They sang songs, used language, and ate food that fit their culture while remaining true to the gospel. Paul and Barnabas hit the road to plant churches among Gentiles and those churches had different songs, different language, and different food that fit non-Jewish cultures while remaining true to the gospel.
The bottom line? The message is what really matters, and the style is not a big deal. Too often, Christians fight over style, which is really just various kinds of wrapping paper on the same gift of grace through Jesus Christ.
Are you able to celebrate and rejoice in churches that don’t do things the way you would like them done?