Think of a time when you disagreed with someone. What were the steps you took to resolve the disagreement? Acts 15 shows us two disagreements inside the early church.

The first disagreement is called a “closed hand issue,” which needs to be resolved because it deals one of the foundations of the Christian faith. This disagreement occurred because the church was trying to require circumcision for non-Jewish believers, in order for them to become a part of the followers of Jesus. This directly opposed the message of Jesus: by faith alone. In this chapter, Paul defends that becoming a follower of Jesus means receiving the free gift of God through trusting in Jesus. What is the foundation of your beliefs? What are closed hand issues for you?

The second disagreement mentioned is an “open hand issue.” It does not oppose the foundations of the Christian faith, but is merely a question of preference. This disagreement between Paul and Barnabas was about whether John Mark should continue ministering with them. The result was Barnabas brought John Mark with him to minister in Cyprus, and Paul went the other way, bringing Silas to minister with him in Syria and Cilicia. Though they parted ways, they doubled the ministry teams going out from Jerusalem. Disagreements do not have to be bad things. In fact, sometimes the Lord brings people into our lives for a season and then separates us through circumstance or disagreement, for the better of both parties and others around them. Is there a disagreement God might be using to make this change in your life?

— Russell Schultz