Reflection for Wednesday 18th May 2022

Jon Ellis

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Reflection Acts 15 1-6 Psalm 122 1-5 John 15 1-8 Wednesday May 18

Acts 15
1 ¶ Some men came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the brothers: “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.”
2 This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them. So Paul and Barnabas were appointed, along with some other believers, to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question.
3 The church sent them on their way, and as they travelled through Phoenicia and Samaria, they told how the Gentiles had been converted. This news made all the brothers very glad.
4 When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and elders, to whom they reported everything God had done through them.
5 Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to obey the law of Moses.”
6 ¶ The apostles and elders met to consider this question.

REFLECTION
Who do I want to have in my church? That is the debate that was going on in Antioch. Should non-circumcised men be allowed? Or could only Jews be members of Christ’s church? Fortunately for us, Jesus made no distinction. Everyone who turns to him is a member of his church.

However, even if we repent, we still have difficulty in getting on with everyone in our church!
In C. S. Lewis’ book “The Screwtape Letters”, the chapters are divided up into “Letters from a senior to junior devil” who is called Wormwood. Wormwood has the responsibility of ensuring one man, “the patient”, does not become a Christian.

In one letter, he gives advice on what to do when the patient starts attending church.

“I note with grave displeasure that your patient has become a Christian. … There is no need to despair; hundreds of these adult converts have been reclaimed after a brief sojourn in the Enemy’s camp and are now with us. …
One of our great allies at present is the Church itself. …. I do not mean the Church as we see her spread out through all time and space and rooted in eternity …
“All your patient sees … is just that selection of his neighbours whom he has hitherto avoided. … Provided that any of those neighbours sing out of tune, or have boots that squeak, or double chins, or odd clothes, the patient will quite easily believe that their religion must therefore be somehow ridiculous. …
“You see, he has an idea of “Christians” in his mind which he supposes to be spiritual but which, in fact, is largely pictorial.”

Christ’s church is full of all sorts of people, different personalities, different temperaments, different backgrounds, different intellects, different ideas of common sense, different ways to dress, different ways to speak, different musical tastes, different wealth… I could go on. The point is, we rub along with them because Jesus calls to be one body.
But basic human nature rears its head every so often. Our prejudices show, no matter how we try. Sometimes it shows openly in arguments. More often, it is subtly in moaning and gossiping. Only the Holy Spirit can deal with this. We can’t do it alone.

It is not MY church. It is CHRIST’S church.

COLLECT 5th Easter
Risen Christ,
your wounds declare your love for the world
and the wonder of your risen life:
give us compassion and courage
to risk ourselves for those we serve,
to the glory of God the Father.