One of today's readings in Forward Day by Day is from Acts 15:12-22. Remember that story? Here is the commentary from FDbD:
James was the leader of the believers in Jerusalem. The members of that community were mostly Jews who believed in Jesus and had been baptized. The few baptized Gentiles among them had been required to convert to Judaism, be circumcised, and keep the Mosaic Law in its entirety. Paul and Barnabas had a different experience in their missionary work in Greece and Asia Minor. Their converts were mostly Gentiles and had not been required to become Jews in order to become believers.
This caused dissension between the two groups (sound familiar?). The first ecumenical council was held in Jerusalem to settle the dispute. Both sides presented their case; amazingly, they listened to each other. Even more amazing, James and the elders of Jerusalem changed their minds and agreed with Paul (Notice they did NOT sue them over this difference but LISTENED). It took real courage for them to leave their comfort zone and break bread with people who were not observant Jews.
What can James and other first-century leaders teach the church today?
Pray the Diocese of Iran (Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East).
My answer: Simple:
1) LISTEN to those with whom who have disagreements/disputes! I mean really listen not just hear and then re-state your arguments.
2) Do NOT sue those who disagree with you!
3) Do NOT "abandon" fellow believers just because they disagree! <sarcasm on> Well done, TEC! Nothing like "abandoning" 29,000 fellow believers with a stroke of the pen. Well done,+KJS)<sarcasm off>