Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Monday, 29 April 19:
Note: Here is a short video overview of 1 Samuel: https://youtu.be/QJOju5Dw0V0
Romans 14:1 — “As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions…. So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.”
How incredible would it be if Christians and their respective churches put Romans 14 into practice? The body of Christ suffers from tremendous disunity and consequential disempowerment because of irreconcilable quarrels over various religious practices and traditions – “One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike.” Divisions between denominations and between churches within denominations can become quite worldly and hostile, destroying the witness of those involved. Some church denominations even forbid certain Christians from participating in communion, not because those Christians aren’t committed believers in Christ, but because they aren’t members of that particular denomination; this is contrary to the teachings of the Bible – “decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother (Romans 14:13).”
Sometimes non-essential Scriptural interpretations also divide denominations and churches. But why can’t we disagree without being disagreeable? Why can’t we disagree about some of the more complex, debatable theological issues while remaining united in the love of Christ? Can’t we trust God to reveal truth to His faithful servants? “Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand (Romans 14:4).”
In Corinth, Paul encouraged knowledgeable Christians to show gentleness and understanding to new believers who, get this, still did not understand that there is only one God and that idols are fictitious, meaningless and powerless – “not all possess this knowledge. But some, through former association with idols, eat food as really offered to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled (1 Corinthians 8:7).” Rather than ridiculing these new believers for their tremendous lack of understanding, Paul encouraged the enlightened Christians not to eat meat sacrificed to idols in order to remove that stumbling block from the spiritual development of those baby Christians.
Be gracious to those who are misguided in their faith but who love God, and continue to lovingly proclaim the truth of God to them, guiding them gently to greater understanding as a reconciler. It is hard to be on the ministry of reconciliation when you are quarreling with others and putting up barriers or stumbling blocks.
One of the best methods of restoring unity within the Body is by getting Christians back into the word of God. I am very thankful for the Defenders Group with representation across the denominations, studying God’s word together with a heart for the Lord and for each other.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 29 Apr 19: Be patient and encouraging with those less grounded in the truth than you. Remain true to the word in your own behavior; speak the truth to the misguided in love, and always display the love of Christ.