Thursday, August 28, 2014

Accepting My Brother

Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God. For I say that Christ has become a servant to the circumcision on behalf of the truth of God to confirm the promises given to the fathers, and for the Gentiles to glorify God for His mercy; as it is written, "THEREFORE I WILL GIVE PRAISE TO YOU AMONG THE GENTILES, AND I WILL SING TO YOUR NAME." Again he says, "REJOICE, O GENTILES, WITH HIS PEOPLE." And again, "PRAISE THE LORD ALL YOU GENTILES, AND LET ALL THE PEOPLES PRAISE HIM." Again Isaiah says, "THERE SHALL COME THE ROOT OF JESSE, AND HE WHO ARISES TO RULE OVER THE GENTILES, IN HIM SHALL THE GENTILES HOPE."  (Romans 15:7-12)

Wouldn’t it be great if everyone around us worked off the same priorities and values that we did?  How good it would be if each had the same frame of reference from their history and traditions.  Even better, if everyone could be free of bias, racial identity and conflicting religious ideologies, couldn’t we all get along better?  First of all, such is a pipedream.  Secondly, how boring life would be!

A major problem for the people Paul spoke to was cultural differences and expressions of worship. 
Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions. One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only. The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.  Romans 14:1-4

Today, we find some of the same issues creating problems in churches everywhere.  We don’t seem to understand that the methods of ministry and worship among believers are variable depending on a wide number of factors.  The one nonnegotiable is we are all responsible to God.1. Realize that “Receiving an individual is foundational to ministry to them.”

Paul was very clear about what we need to do and that is accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.  Note there are no caveats to his statement.  Did Christ make you change all of your thinking before He died for you?  Does Christ require you acting just like others before He ministers to you?  It is Christ that accepts us and it is because He understands us.
Note the EXPANSE of Christ's acceptance.  Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female...all are one in Christ!  All are EQUAL in Him!  Today, he might say, “Southern Baptist or Fundamental Baptist, Independent or Full Gospel, Contemporary or Traditional...”  What is interesting is that he is speaking to the CHURCH! 

How interesting that before we even get to accepting others in our service to them we must first learn to accept and respect the ones in our fellowship.  I have learned that the ones in my life who are the most intolerant of others are the same that require the most toleration!  Spiritual pride by those who feel they have a corner on God dishonors Christ and His open love.

Maybe we all need to search our hearts to see if we bristle when the gospel is presented in a form we don’t especially like or understand.  Possibly we need to look at who is being reached by those who share and minister from a different cultural base and thank God for their witness.  Jesus spoke to the Jew and the Gentile differently and He does the same today.  Translating the gospel is more than changing the words; sometimes it is about changing the method.

Scripture to Claim:
So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this--not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother's way. (Romans 14:12-13)

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