Tuesday Re-mix –
On the contrary, they saw that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, just as Peter had been to the Jews. For God, who was at work in the ministry of Peter as an apostle to the Jews, was also at work in my ministry as an apostle to the Gentiles. Galatians 2:7-8
Most of us approach a jigsaw puzzle (or any other problem) the same way, whether we know it or not. We start with what we absolutely know to be true. When chaos and confusion abound and there is so much we do NOT know, we all have an intuitive notion to go back to what we know and then slowly work forward from there. In the case of the traditional jigsaw puzzle, it is the corner pieces. They are what we know, they define the parameters of the puzzle. Whatever else comes along, we know that the answer lies within the four corners of the puzzle.
Finding solutions to conflict within the church, even interpersonal conflict, works the same way. We always start with what we know: what we know about God, what we know about God’s Word, and what we know about what God is doing.
I don’t think the conflict in the early church was any small thing. I think the prejudices and potential doctrinal conflict between Paul’s ministry to the Gentiles and Peter’s ministry to the Jews was every bit as dangerous and troubling as our conflicts today. It had a cultural (racial) element, a doctrinal element (e.g., circumcision) and even a leadership style element (Peter was not the only leader with whom Paul’s temperament clashed). Reading Acts 15 and Galatians 2 and other similar accounts, you see that the potential for devastating conflict …