And God, who knows the heart, bore witness by granting them the holy Spirit just as he did us. Acts 15:8 NABRE
The early church is trying to find its way. The leaders, Peter, Paul, and Barnabas hear the people calling out all followers of Christ should follow the Mosaic Law, including circumcision. But Peter gives a lecture about his preaching to the Gentles, not just Jews and he says God makes no distinction. God knows the heart of those He has called, whether Jew or Gentile it is through an experience they come to know Christ. The rituals, like circumcision were needed before Christ, they help the community form as one, they bring people together and have them live separately from those who were not in the Jewish community, spiritually. After Christ, these rituals are not as important because Christ came with the message of God’s love and awareness for all people. If God sends the Holy Spirt on the Gentile Christians the same as the Jewish Christians there is no need to create a unity of ritual for all followers. It is the heart that is pierced for Christ, and God knows the heart.
Today we have a baptism and then hope for an experience where the Holy Spirit will come upon us to make us saints, holy people living for God through Christ. But in the days of Peter and Paul it is the experience that came first, a special charism came on the people and it is this charism that created church leaders. Paul creates churches and has the local leaders oversee the church and invite others. After this experience of Christ, then the people might be baptized to provide an outward sign of what is already happening internally. Today we baptize thinking eventually an internal transformation will occur. No matter it is the heart that is known.
Have you had an experience of Christ? What rituals are important to you?If God sends the Holy Spirt on the Gentile Christians the same as the Jewish Christians there is no need to create a unity of ritual for all followers. It is the heart that is pierced for Christ, and God knows the heart. Click To Tweet
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