“Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things. For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him. Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.”
Romans 14:1-4 NKJV
One thing that I enjoy is being around believers of different stripes, people who have called on the Name of the Lord, who have different traditions than mine. I especially like mission trips where I can see people that Jesus has saved from far off lands. Even though there are differences, there is still a common theme as each has come to a saving knowledge of the Lord.
There is liberty in the Lord, as we are united by a common faith, but still individuals, distinct in our manner of life and worship.
Even in situations when all involved have the same correct view of doctrine, there can be differences that can divide. These divisions can even be seen within congregations. Some might eschew movies, certain times kinds of music, or they might favor one Bible translation over another.
There might be one person who thinks cigarette smoking is sin, and another who smokes. There are as many divisions as there are people. I remember a deacons meeting I attended years ago. A fellow deacon had expressed anger over seeing a man smoking a cigarette outside the church. He was deeply offended.
I offered a bit of assistance in helping him to overcome his bias against smokers, as I told him of our Celebrate Recovery ministry. I told him that on any given Friday night there would be upwards to thirty smokers in front of the church. He looked at me in horror. Pastor Chuck, who was overseer of the deacons and CR, chuckled.
I learned long ago, it was a miracle that they were in the church at all to hear the Gospel. Oh that the church would be full of smokers, coming and hearing, the Good News!
The process of salvation is multitiered, as one is first saved from sin, becomes sanctified as the Holy Spirit refines, and will be glorified in heaven. None of us come into the walk of faith completed. Likewise, we all come with our own styles of worship.
“One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks.”
Romans 14:5-6 NKJV
We are called to unity, to honor each other, and in doing so, honor God. Jesus went to the cross to save the person you despise, remembering that we were all enemies of God before we knew Him. Far be it from me to condemn someone for who Jesus died. in doing so, I make myself a judge of God. No on can judge God.
I think sometimes we forget where we come from, and believe that we came into the faith pious and holy. Each of us comes in at the bottom, and each of us lives is under the sovereignty of the Lord.
“For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living. But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written: “As I live, says the Lord, Every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God.””
Romans 14:8-11 NKJV
Let us lay down the differences that separate, holding in common the doctrine concerning salvation, the nature of God, the depravity of man, and the penal substitutionary nature of Christ’s death on the cross. We must also hold to the supremacy of unchanging Scripture as the overwhelming guide to the faith.
The other things that separate are minor, made major in conflict.
Each of us will, in due time, stand before the Lord to give an accounting of what we have done for Jesus, and the motivations we held hidden in our hearts. Let each of us be able to stand having gloried the Lord and been bold in sharing the Gospel.
“So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.”
Romans 14:12-13 NKJV
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