Acts 15 Art of Writing Letters, Art of Making Decisions

In Acts 15, we see the church facing an enormous decision concerning the necessity of circumcision for salvation. This decision would determine whether the church becomes a global movement of a Jewish sect. But that enormous decision was communicated by surprisingly short and simple letter. The simplicity of the letter embodies the humility, wisdom, and courage of their decision making process.

First, the letter address the Gentile Christians humbly as brothers and sisters. The apostles and elders recognize their privileged authority but doesn’t abuse it. Among equals there is no need for long swollen introductions. In their discussion too, both Peter and James never use their position to declare the will of God. They share their experience and scriptural interpretation confidently and humbly.

Secondly, the letter requires only three practices from the Gentile Christians. And they are not even given as absolutes. This reflects their decision making process which was open, allowing everyone chance to speak and taking human experience with great respect.

The reason why the early Church was humble and open was because the Church truly believed Christ rose from the dead was still alive and leading.

Because Christ is the head, Peter and James never vie for succession. There is no politicking in the decision process.

Because Christ is alive as the Spirit in every baptized Christian, the human experience was taken as the work of the Spirit. This is not the relegating of scripture. It is a mutual respect of both, scripture interpreting experience and experience interpreting scripture. It is the recognition that the Spirit that inspired people to write scripture is still at work.

In every decision, family or as church, we should take the same attitude, that Christ is the Living Lord and the Spirit speaks through human experiences.