My wife and I have five children ranging from preschooler to teenager. There is rarely a day, much less an hour for that matter, that passes in which at least two of them are not in some sort of conflict. Perhaps it’s just our family, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say you know what I’m talking about. In most families I’ve encountered, conflict is not a foreign concept. Given enough time together, people will eventually disagree on something. After all, “we all stumble in many ways” (James 3:2). Families are imperfect people living in close quarters with other imperfect people. Sometimes conflict arises over minor issues, sometimes it is over major issues. But almost without fail, conflict eventually arises. While we do not do this perfectly in our home, my wife and/or I try to sit down with those involved in conflict to help them see what the source of their conflict is and what God has to say about it from Scripture.
The reality of impending conflict is not limited to bloodline families; spiritual families (churches) come face-to-face with conflict, too. The first century church was not immune to conflict. They were forging a road not traveled before. As Jesus’ church was being birthed, they reached an important fork in the road, and conflict bubbled to the surface. As the message of Christ had gone out to the Gentiles and the Holy Spirit was doing many signs and wonders among the Gentiles through Paul and Barnabas (Acts 15:12), some among the Jewish believers struggled accepting the faith of the Gentiles without adhering to some of the Jewish customs.
A council gathered together from the church in Jerusalem to openly discuss this issue. James reminded the church that through Peter “God first intervened to take from the Gentiles a people for his name” (Acts 15:14). In other words, God took initiative to bring Gentiles into the fold. James challenged those gathered for this council from what God had said in the Old Testament reminding them that bringing Gentiles into His family was God’s plan all along. (Acts 15:15-18) James concluded, “We should not cause difficulties for those among the Gentiles who turn to God” (Acts 15:19).
Under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, the church ultimately recognized that a person is saved by faith alone. Help your kids see that, while the Bible does give instructions for how to live, sinners are made right with God only by the grace of Jesus through faith alone. Jesus is all we need. Anyone who trusts in Him will be saved.
Jeremy Carroll (@jermpc) is the team leader for The Gospel Project for Kids. Before coming to LifeWay, he has been active in local church ministry for nearly 20 years in TN, TX, and AL. Jeremy earned a Master of Arts in Christian Education from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. A Middle Tennessee native, he and his family live in Murfreesboro, TN.