15:6 Now the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter. 7 And when there had been much dispute, Peter rose up and said to them: “Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8 So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, 9 and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. 10 Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? 11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.”
The hillbilly definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I hope you are tracking this story. Jews from Jerusalem follow Paul and tell the people in the churches he planted that they must be circumcised or they can't be saved. Paul confronts this idea head on and it leads to a huge meeting back in Jerusalem to settle the question. After a heated debate Peter stands up. This is significant. Peter is Jewish and the most respected among the disciples. It is also significant because he was the first to share Jesus directly with Gentiles when he went to the home of Cornelius in Caesarea. Remember the vision repeated three times? Remember God's message to consider nothing common or unclean? Remember that God filled Cornelius and those in his house with His Spirit before Peter ever had a chance to baptise them? Remember how that also caused a controversy that ended with a meeting in Jerusalem?
Here's the truth. God was not just trying to reach and teach the world beyond Judaism. He was trying to reach and unteach the Jews themselves. Blow by blow He was hammering away at their prejudices and false ideas.
Speaking of Christianity today my favourite author wrote that we have "many things to learn and many, many, to unlearn." She also wrote "Never think that you will not have opportunity to give up cherished opinions."
Peter stands before the leaders of this baby movement called "Christianity" and tells them to wake up and see what they are doing. Instead of teaching Gentiles the freedom of the gospel(good news) of Jesus they are trying to draw them back into the fruitless bondage of Judaism, the very belief system that killed Jesus. A system obsessed with self. A system that Jesus called a burden impossible to bear. A system Peter says no previous generation was ever able to make work.
My son has a joke that he loves. It goes like this: There is a man trapped in a concrete cube. There are no doors or windows. All he has is a piece of wood and saw. How does he get out?
The answer is that he cuts the piece if wood in half. Two halfs make a (w)hole and he crawls through it.
He tried the joke on his cousin who is dogmatically logical. He accurately assessed that this escape method would not work.
Now picture this. Jesus comes and cuts a huge hole in the side of this concrete cube. The Gentiles see the hole and with thankful joy leave the cube. The Jews inside refuse to leave. They insist that for generations they have held the belief that two halfs make a (w)hole and they go back to sawing their pieces of wood. Worse still they call after the Gentiles to come back, telling them they will never be truly free (saved) until they leave the cube the "right way".
Jesus or religious traditions and lists.