“It seemed good to the Holy Spirit.. not to burden you.. beyond these essentials” (Acts 15:28)
It’s a common frustration. You buy something on eBay or an online retailer, or even at the local hardware store. Then when you begin to use the item, you discover that it’s defective—nicked, outdated, or missing a crucial bolt. The product can’t do the job you thought it could do.
In a way, this is why the new Christians of Antioch were upset. However, their disappointment centered not on a product but on the gospel! These Gentiles had joyfully believed the good news announced by Paul, but after him came other preachers who claimed that he had given them a deficient message. It wasn’t enough to believe in Jesus, they said: “Unless you are circumcised according to the Mosaic practice, you cannot be saved” (Acts 13:48; 15:1). The church’s leaders in Jerusalem ruled otherwise, and today’s reading quotes the letter in which they communicated their decision. Essentially, it was: No, you don’t need to observe the Mosaic law. Faith in Christ is what’s essential.
Christians no longer feel that they need to follow the Mosaic Law. We believe that we are saved by the grace of a loving Father who wants to give us good gifts. At least, that’s what we believe. But when our daily crosses get a bit too heavy, when we’re tempted, drained, confused, or at a loss, we can be tempted to think that the gospel is deficient or defective in some way.
Jesus didn’t come to guarantee us health, wealth, and prosperity. He came to promise us one thing: “I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20). He is with us to guide us, to comfort us, and to encourage us. He has given us his Spirit so that we can stand tall, even when all around us seems to be falling apart. He gives us the same promise he gave to St. Paul: “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
So if you’re feeling overwhelmed today, step back, consider the big picture, and put your faith in Jesus. For you, as for those early Christians, it’s the path to peace of mind.
“Lord Jesus, I see so many needs—mine, my family’s, those of the church and the world. Help me to look up, trust you to provide, and receive your gift of peace.”