Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Unity in Diversity, Part 1 of 33

TEXT: "Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things" (Romans 14:1).

IDEA: Christians can disagree with one another about many issues and not sin; how we handle those disagreements can be in love or in sin.

PURPOSE: Good and sincere Christians disagree with one another; how do we handle those disagreements?

Christians have a witness to the world through their unity.

In John 17:20-21, Jesus prayed that we might be one. It was a prayer He prayed for us, and it was His final request before He went to his death. Our unity would be a witness to the world.

The church in Rome was made up of both Jews and Greeks. This was significant to the apostle Paul since he firmly believed that one of the greatest arguments for the validity of Christianity was its ability to bring people together from segments of society that would normally be at odds with one another. Christians were to live in love with one another. That was good theology, but it was tough to put into practice.

Paul deals with this in Romans 14:1.

“Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things.” The NW translates the verse, “Accept the person whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters.”

How seriously do we take this unity in the church at large or in local congregations?

Christians argue over music: the hymns are not theological, or they are too repetitious.

Christians argue over lifestyles: clothes, hair, shorts.

Christians argue over doctrine: baptism, the Lord’s Supper. Christians argue over the place of women in the church.

A little poem sums up the situation:

"Believe what I believe, no more, no less

That I am right, and no one else--confess.

Feel as I feel, think only as I think,

Eat what I eat drink only what I drink.

Look as I look, do always as I do.

Then, and only then, will I fellowship with you."

This is not laughable, but lamentable. We can expect differences and disagreements In many matters, but we are not to allow these issues to divide us.

We don’t have to agree with other Christians, but we do have to accept them and, In fact, love them.