The acts of the apostles is one of the easy to read books in the Bible. Very well, it can be read as a story of the early Church, whose protagonist in the Holy Spirit, and revolved around two important characters Peter and Paul. What are some of the major events of the Acts? Pentecost is surely the most important event. I would also give high priority to the conversion of Paul. Surely there are other significant moments too. One moment I am realizing lately comes from today’s reading, that is from the 15th chapter of the same book. Conflicts were part of the first Christian community as of any community and this chapter speaks of the resolution of the issue.
When the gentiles join the Christian fold, whether they should be circumcised. There were Paul and company who said that they needn't; there was some pharisees (and surely some disciples) who thought that they should. Now its interesting to see how they settle the issue.
- The Christian community is guided by the Spirit, and the early Christianity community accepted it. Now if we don’t accept this framework, this style of resolution may not work for our contemporary situation .
- Atleast Bible doesn't explicit state on the number of Jews and Gentiles present. Or it’s not like a democracy where the majority decision hold or an dictatorship where one person’s or one family’s decision holds.
- How they settled the issue? First step can be the acceptance of a problem.
4. Second step is to listen to all parties involved. But here the point of listening is very clear… to see where the spirit is acting, or what is the invitation of the Spirit. Sharing is easier than listening. Recognising the presence of Spirit is more difficult than listening. It becomes all the more complicated when you recognise the acting of the Spirit in the party which you are not part of.
5. Recognition of Spirit will slowly lead to the decision, a decision which some will be totally convinced, a few others will be more or less convinced, and others not so convinced. But a decision also has to be implemented slowly considering the sensitivities of the people who opposes it.
6. One of the major struggles to arrive at such a decision is the crowd who stands behind their leaders. Or in some sense, crowds must have an experience of the recognition of the Spirit, which helped the group arrive at this decision.
7. Atleast in the gospel scene, the presence of credible leaders like Peter and James (both spoke after them recognising the Spirit) helped them to arrive at the decision.
Some of these factors may not come into the picture so strongly when it is a conflict between two persons. But this is an event where Bible gives clear cut way of how to settle issues, which can be used atleast to settle issues within the Christian community and can be adapted to resolve in the larger human community.