Reading: Romans 15:1-13
Consider: When Paul wrote his letter to the church in Rome he had to confront a particular issue that can still be prevalent in churches today. The church in Rome was very diverse. It contained Jews and Gentiles, wealthy and poor, slave and free, strong and weak, as well as a rich mix of ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Paul knew that human nature tends to mean that people prefer to mix with those they consider to be like themselves and that this can lead to ‘cliques’.
If I was to ask you if you’ve ever felt that the church you attend has cliques, or an ‘in crowd’ and you’ve felt yourself to be on the outside, I’m sure some of you will say ‘Yes’. Isn’t it unfortunate that we are willing to take Scripture seriously in so many areas of our lives, yet often fail to be accepting of those in the church who need us to invest extra energy or time in developing their friendship.
Think on what Paul says in Romans 15:7 – Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. If Christ is able to accept us with all our imperfections, then we should be able to ignore all the superficial differences we see between ourselves and others. This accords with what we read elsewhere in the Bible. For example in Galatians 3:28 we read: There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. As the Body of Christ, we have a responsibility to care and nurture each other. In 1 Corinthians 12:12-30 Paul sets out a very clear picture of the body and how it should work together.
Read again what Paul says in Romans 15:1-2 – We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbours for their good, to build them up. Taking the focus of ourselves and what we want, frees us to focus on the needs of others and enables us to seek to build them up in the faith.
Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God (Romans 15:7 )
Pray: Father, help us to welcome and appreciate the differences we see in our fellow believers. May we always be willing to put their needs before our own and to seek to build them up spiritually. Amen