English Standard Version (ESV)
What a timely section for us to come to, as our nation seems to grow a little more divided each and every day. We seem to spend a lot of time and energy trying to find labels for each other, especially when people often end up defying the stereotype we have attached to certain labels. We start to think we understand one another, and then people have this habit of surprising us. It's exhausting, right?
In the early church, there was division. There was debate. And people inevitably divided into two camps about things. But what is beautiful is that they gathered together to discuss it. They were deeply divided over whether the Jewish laws and customs would apply to new believers. Remember, the early church believed they were being faithful Jews and worshiping the long-awaited Messiah. They didn't see their beliefs as a radical departure from the expectation. They thought that others who wanted to follow Jesus should accommodate to the historical traditions of the faith -- they didn't completely comprehend all the new that God was doing.
So the church debated. And it wasn't always neat and tidy, and I'm sure there wasn't always perfect resolution where everyone got along and sang hymns together at the end of the debate. But the important thing is that the church continued to be the church. The church has debated various things over the centuries, but it has always remained, and there is always room for debate within the church. We don't have to agree on every little detail -- we can welcome and love one another even while we debate some things. The important thing is to remember to be humble, to love one another as Christ loves each of us, and to remember that we are part of a community that stretches back thousands of years. Whatever storms the church is in, it will survive, and it will thrive, because Christ is our Head and nothing shall ever defeat him.