The arguments went on and on, back and forth, getting more and more heated. Then Peter took the floor: "Friends, you well know that from early on God made it quite plain that he wanted the pagans to hear the Message of this good news and embrace it - and not in any secondhand or roundabout way, but firsthand, straight from my mouth.
And God, who can't be fooled by any pretense on our part but always knows a person's thoughts, gave them the Holy Spirit exactly as he gave him to us.
He treated the outsiders exactly as he treated us, beginning at the very center of who they were and working from that center outward, cleaning up their lives as they trusted and believed him.
"So why are you now trying to out-god God, loading these new believers down with rules that crushed our ancestors and crushed us, too?
Don't we believe that we are saved because the Master Jesus amazingly and out of sheer generosity moved to save us just as he did those from beyond our nation? So what are we arguing about?"
The silence deepened; you could hear a pin drop.
Simeon has told us the story of how God at the very outset made sure that racial outsiders were included.
This is in perfect agreement with the words of the prophets:
After this, I'm coming back; I'll rebuild David's ruined house; I'll put all the pieces together again; I'll make it look like new
So outsiders who seek will find, so they'll have a place to come to, All the pagan peoples included in what I'm doing.
It's no afterthought; he's always known he would do this.
"So here is my decision: We're not going to unnecessarily burden non-Jewish people who turn to the Master.
We'll write them a letter and tell them, 'Be careful to not get involved in activities connected with idols, to guard the morality of sex and marriage, to not serve food offensive to Jewish Christians - blood, for instance.'
This is basic wisdom from Moses, preached and honored for centuries now in city after city as we have met and kept the Sabbath."
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)