Like the current Brexit debate which hinges on 3 core positions: hard Brexit, soft Brexit and no Brexit; the disciples were faced with similar challenges after the death of our Lord.
By way of background, Judaism was not originally a missional faith. Converts were meant to be attracted to the faith through the actions of the Jews, and God’s glory in their midst. But during the time of our Lord there was already a missional drive by the Rabbis, hence Jesus’ rebuke to the Pharisees (Matthew 23:15), for the negative impact of their efforts.
It is also important to note that Jesus was a prophet of his time. In otherwords, he addressed issues of his time, challenged the ‘ideals’, and reinterpreted scriptures. Jesus didn’t come to set-up Christianity (as many would love to believe), but rather to reform the Jewish faith, and to open its doors for mission to the wider-world. In fact, most of what we know today as Paul’s teaching or insight are from Jewish commentaries on the Old Testament (the Talmud and Mishnah).
Equipped with the Holy Spirit, the apostles (who had the mandate to ‘go’ and tell the world about the messiah) were still caught between: hard Judaism, soft Judaism or no Judaism. But they were never shy of these debates. The sharp end of their arguments are evident in most of the letters in the New Testament.
As we know through history, Judaism has always moved with the times. From the invisible God who communed with the patriarchs, the Tabernacle, the temple, destruction of the temple, the exile, the second temple; the faith has always been resilient, adapting to the forces of change and pace of human advancement.
These changes were led by people with inspired vision, people with strong convictions, radicals – willing to go against popular opinion.
In the same vein, the faith we know today as Christianity needs to keep evolving dear friends. We need to challenge the status quo. Ask the difficult questions. Revisit scriptures, and interpret them in light of the speed of change in our world. The reformation was not meant to stop after the efforts of the reformers, rather, it should be part of our DNA.
Are you willing to stand up and be counted?