Summary: This message looks at the problem in Acts 11:1-18 of those in the early church focusing on the wrong aspects of what took place there.
Sometimes we as Christians can get all bent out of shape over the smallest, most insignificant things. You might think that it has something to do with today’s “drive thru” culture but you would be wrong. In fact, today we will see that it goes all the way back to the early Church. That is why I have titled this message Majoring in the Minors.
The Minors in this passage are…
IDENTITY – v. 1 (the apostles and brethren) – Too often we as Christians get all hung up over what title we have or how many letters we have behind our names. Some think it is important for them to have the title of reverend, pastor, bishop, elder, deacon, superintendent, director, teacher, president, D-min, PhD, DD, etc. Folks when we take the focus off of ourselves and put it on others we will find real fulfillment in ministry.
LOCALITY – v. 1 (who were in Judea) – Judea was the epicenter for the Christian faith. So much happened in that region but did that make it more important or significant than any other location where people were believing and the gospel was spreading? Many times we think that where we are located is significant in our ministries. If every Church relocated to where ever the population wave was headed then who would be left to minister and serve where the wave has long since past? Certainly growth may be easier in a growing area but I can assure you there are just as many people to reach and minister to in declining areas.
ETHNICITY – v. 1 (that the gentiles) – Prejudice is an ugly thing. It blinds us to the truth. Here the Jews prejudice caused them to miss the point of what had taken place. Most churches today preach a message of love and acceptance of everyone but most of those same churches are largely segregated. Admittedly most of the segregation is self imposed and not forced by the church however if we made everyone feel welcome no matter who they are I think we would see a much more diverse body of Christ.
LEGALITY – v. 2, 3 (those of the circumcision, to uncircumcised men) – Isn’t it amazing how people who are under grace can be so legalistic about various things? Even today in the middle east people are judged by this very criteria. I was speaking with an American man who had spent some time in a muslim country and when he was introduced to a local young woman, she immediately asked him if he was circumcised. She was not interested in his anatomy, she was interested in his ideology. We too can get hung up on making demands of people that Jesus never made. Legality is a minor and has no place in the Church.
ACTIVITY – v. 3 (and ate with them) – Here Peter is criticized for the activity of having a meal with gentiles. But note there is no acknowledgement of his activity in sharing the gospel. Too often churches get consumed with all that they are doing. We pile on activity after activity because we think that is what it takes to reach people. I believe we would be much better served to do just one thing well than twenty just satisfactorily, but only when that one thing is evangelism. Activity for activities sake will olny leave us tired and lacking.
Peter must have noticed their majoring on the minors so he decided to remind them of the majors.
The majors in this passage are…
PREPARATION – v. 5 (in the city of Joppa praying) – Peter knew that God would only use him if he was faithful in preparation. He was seeking God in prayer and the Lord had a message for him. Only when we seek God through prayer and his word can we expect to hear from Him. Preparation in the Lords work is essential.
APPLICATION – v. 9 (you must not call common) – Knowing something in principal is fine but that knowledge won’t make any difference in your life unless it is applied. Peter had to make application of this truth in order to be used of God.
ACTIVATION – v. 12 (go with them) – Have you ever ordered home phone service? You contact the phone company with your cell phone, they take some information, give you a number, you pay any deposits or fees, plug in your phone immediately and try to make a call. Does it work? Of course not. Is it because you didn’t prepare, or because you didn’t apply the knowledge you had concerning phone service? NO! It is because it has to be activated before it works properly. We too need activation to work properly. I call it obedience. God told Peter to go and he went.