“For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to impose on you no further burden than these essentials: that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from fornication. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well.” (Acts 15:28-29)
It is one thing to know a person, but a different thing to be a friend to that person. We all know God as Christians but the question is: “Am I a friend to God?” And the way to answer this question is to examine whether or not we are doing what God commands. It will be a contradiction if we say we are friends of God yet we do the things He hates. In today’s first reading, a decision was reached regarding the Gentiles coming into the Christian Faith. They wouldn’t have to be circumcised but they were to abstain from items sacrificed to idols, from the blood of strangled animals and from fornication.
These were cultural/religious practices already in place among the Gentiles which they were now to renounce by virtue of their Christian faith. The lesson this teaches us is that becoming a friend of God, becoming a Christian so to say demands a certain level of sacrifice on our part. We must be willing to let go of our old ways; our desire for worldly pleasures, our worship of false gods whether directly or indirectly through such practices as eating a meal sacrificed to idols. Friendship with God comes at a cost. There must be a cross to carry and a new life to embrace.
In his love for us, Jesus went all the way to sacrifice his very life for us. “Greater love has no man than this; that a man lay down his life for his friends.” How do we reciprocate this love? By laying down our own lives, that is, giving up our will to obey the will of God. Friendship with God comes at a cost but there is also a prize for it. Jesus says: “I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide; so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.” (John 15:16). When we read the lives of the Saints, we are amazed at their great accomplishments and miracles. The truth is that they were friends of God. Wouldn’t you rather be a friend of God?
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, help me remain your friend forever and give me the grace to truly bear fruits for you. Amen. Bible Study: Acts 15:22-31, Psalm 57 and John 15:12-17).