Be Still Know
Romans 14.1 NLT
‘Accept other believers who are weak in faith, and don’t argue with them about what they think is right or wrong.’
In every generation there are issues on which Christians have different opinions. You might care to dream of a world in which such tensions don’t exist but, I’m afraid that here on earth, that will never happen. So the question is what to do with those disputes and particularly in relation to young Christians. Paul offers very strong and practical advice. He is desperately concerned that such issues shouldn’t be a stumbling block to those who are weaker in the faith. He encourages his readers to respect one another’s different opinions and not to make a big issue of it.
The two areas of tension in the Roman church concerned food and the celebration of special days. Those from a Jewish background had some very strict rules about their food and the sabbath. They were absolutely convinced that they were right, and clearly had no willingness to negotiate. Paul said that what mattered was that they did what they were convinced before the Lord was right. So if someone ate a particular food, and another person refrained from eating a particular food, what mattered was that they were both doing so to the Lord. Paul summarised the teaching by saying that we should let God do the judging and stop looking down on other people. He urged his readers to “live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall.” (Romans 14.13)
I am quite sure that, however wonderful your church might be, there are many different opinions on a whole range of subjects. What matters is that we never allow them to get in the way of our fellowship with one another. We should hold our convictions with strength and grace and, at the same time, accept with love and generosity the fact that our Christian brothers and sisters may hold views with which we fundamentally disagree. I fully understand that you might wish for a land in which everyone else’s views are a carbon copy of your own, but just remember that’s called dream land, not the place where God has called us to serve him.
Question: What issues divide people in your own church?
Prayer: Lord God, help me never to allow differences of opinion to obstruct fellowship with my Christian brothers and sisters. Amen.
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