Just something to widen our horizon on Christianity...
I have been doing a lot of thinking concerning this and i think this is something that we Christians should discuss and also 'debate' (with the intention of gaining a wider perspective). The issue at hand is "proper Christian look". Does this really count? Or is it something we have made up.
Let me start by mentioning a story in Acts or better this story written in the book;
Let me explain some of the background concerning what such a council saw it important to meet and discuss. Let it come to our knowledge that the first followers of Jesus were his own people, the Jews. After all, Jesus was and is himself a Jew. Now for starters Jews were the chosen ones, the people of God, who had the covenant and the laws that came from God. God played a vital role and part in their society. We could say that they were a nation under The True God, under YHWH.
This eventually made them not so much of what God intended. A negative result occurred actually. They became proud and very 'anti-other nations' (part of it is because how they were treated by invading nations, although it was disobedience that paved way for that).
But something happened that changed the perspective of the first Jewish Christians. Let's see. It was through Peter that God brought new realizations in a more 'in your face manner'. By that i mean, earlier although Jesus said the disciples would be his witnesses to the ends of the earth, they didn't get it. Notice the response Peter gave to God on account of that vision? Well God said to Peter "take, kill and eat!" and for your information, these were the very animals that they were not to eat following the Law.
I think peter must have though, thinking through his Jewish custom and upbringing, "heck, NO way am i eating those animals!" Well that was what he thought in a sense. But God pronounced those things clean and the rest is history, Cornelius, a gentile and not a red blooded Jew, not known to do Jewish customs or following it, became a follower of Jesus.
This was surely a revelation! But some Jews opposed Peter and said "Why did you break Jewish customs by going into a Gentile's house!!? How dare you defile yourself!!" You see, they didn't understand the whole story until Peter explained to them.
It wasn't Peter alone who caused controversy; Paul and Barnabas were even more controversial. Gentiles were invited in the fold. Being followers of Jesus. Some Jews were outraged! They were thinking that these gentiles can't be full and true Christians unless they abide Jewish customs! Well that's where the council came to discuss the matter about how the gentiles are to be incorporated.
Looking into this particular thing there is one important thing that we have to ask ourselves. Are we repeating what the early Jewish Christians were doing? Making it difficult for people to come to Christ.
I think sometimes I feel like we are telling people to repent, but behind that repentance is something totally different. I think more and more we are telling people not just to repent on the important or vital things but on minor stuff. Sometimes I envision that it is asking people to repent of what to wear, what to eat, where to go, what to drink. It's really weird. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that we can just brush aside on how we drink alcohol, or that we should wear really revealing clothes. That's not what I mean.
But what i mean is, we Christians in this present moment, must, like the believers who were discussing how to incorporate the gentiles being Christians, find among ourselves something like the conclusion made by James;
"It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.
Looking at the culture then they had their issues. It doesn't mean that we have to follow word by word what is said here but to go with the spirit of what was being said and intended.
I hope this sheds light on something. Hopefully, when we tell people to repent and follow Christ, we must know what we mean by that and not make new believers carry unnecessary weight.
The Holy Bible, New International Version, Pradis CD-ROM:Ac 15:19, Book Version: 5.1.1