The place of wise counsel and spiritual reflection

“The apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider this matter. And after there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them (Acts 15:6-7, ESV)

Today I was reminded of the dramatic and critical moments of chapter 15 in the life and mission of the early church. The gospel had been advancing into many new communities and regions and yet a fundamental issue had arisen; namely,  what must a person do to be saved? This was woven into the Jewish and Gentile debate, but also centuries of cultural practice. However, at its core was the centrality of salvation by faith alone. As Lenski put it: “To add anything to Christ as being necessary to salvation, say circumcision or any human work of any kind, is to deny that Christ is the complete Saviour, is to put something human on a par with him, yea to make it the crowning point”.

However today, I don’t want to revisit the nature of salvation, but rather to underline the importance of wise counsel and spiritual reflection. Notice what happens when this debate erupts. I’m pretty sure if Twitter had been around in the 1st century, there would have been an almighty ‘hooly’ about this issue! However, that’s not the approach they take. Rather, they gather a group of seasoned leaders from across a group of churches, and consider and  debate together. Do we have contexts where this can take place today? Do we have forums for genuine consideration and debate of important issues? Or do we live in such small mono-cultures that we’ve lost sight of the importance of consideration and debate of important issues?

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