"Accept One Another"

    The backdrop of the book of Romans was a congregation made up of both Jews and Gentiles. In addition to this mix of peoples was the fact that the emperor of Rome kicked the Jews out of Rome for a time and then after his death they were allowed to return. These two factors caused many issues for the Christians as their backgrounds and traditions were much different. Jews were raised with the mindset of being God’s special people, close alliance to the law and its traditions. Gentiles came from a pagan background with less regard for the traditions and beliefs of the Jews. Paul shows that the Gospel could bring these two sides together. In Romans 15:7 Paul says “Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God”. The Greek word for welcome is proslambanó meaning to aggressively receive. Paul’s point was the welcoming or accepting was a full wholehearted accepting. And rightly so as these two sides are now adopted into God’s family. In order to drive this point home Paul uses the example of Christ. In Romans 15:8-12 Paul connects the saving work of Jesus to both the Jews and the Gentiles; Jesus became a “servant to the Jews to confirm the promises made to the Patriarchs”, and then Jesus also came for the Gentiles to “show mercy to them and rule over them as well”. It is only through Jesus that both Jews and Gentiles can “abound in hope” as it concludes in Romans 15:13. 

    Prior to making this point Paul lays out several principles on how to accept or welcome one another as Christians. In verse 1 he says “Bear with the failings of the weak”. Weak here refers to the situations discussed in chapter 14 – eating meat and celebrating certain days. Instead of judging Paul says in 14:13 “therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother”. In verse 2 he says “Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.” The focus should be on how you can serve and build up your neighbor versus tearing them down. He then immediately points to Jesus who suffered reproaches in order save mankind. Verse 4 is then a reminder that the scriptures provide history and prophecies of the hope that we have in Christ. And it is in this hope of the God of endurance and encouragement that we can live in harmony with one another. Then we can with “one voice” glorify the God and Father of Jesus Christ.

    There is much application in 2023 to be made from these scriptures. God made us all different. We have different backgrounds, personalities, character traits, strengths, and weaknesses. These differences alone can cause problems and conflicts, but we also have the challenges that come with our culture. We are a part of a small tight knit community of believers across the country. We understand that each church is autonomous and makes their own decisions, and that all of those decisions fall within the framework of the scriptures. In addition, book, chapter, and verse is essential in determining God’s will. Our aim is to follow the Bible and the wisdom within and be pleasing in his sight. However, problems arise when believers don’t keep their opinions, traditions, and social class viewpoints in check. And especially when they take the scriptures to a new and more difficult level. If we are not careful, we become the modern day Pharisees who made the same mistakes 2,000 years ago. Examples of this include congregational decisions on non-Biblical matters, what holidays to celebrate, how to raise kids, what to watch, what to listen to, money matters, etc. There are many judgment calls in life that each Christian must make. Even that concept upsets some because everything must be black and white and if everything is black and white, we will all make the same decision on everything. We take it even further. You are more valued if you are a second or third generation Christian, you attend a “big” well known church, or you are associated with a state with a large presence of churches of Christ. Paul tells them to welcome one other as Christ has welcomed you. The level that connects us is being Christians, welcomed into God’s family. Remember Paul’s admonitions in chapter 14; verse 22 - “The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God.”, verse 13 – “Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.”, “Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; verse 11 - for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.”, verse 12 - “So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.” 

    The Scriptures were delivered once and for all and are adequate to guide us through life. Be careful in judging your fellow brother and sister in Christ as they are carefully trying to apply the standard to their challenges in life. Also be careful not to elevate some and push others down. The Christians obviously struggled with this back in Paul’s time and he spent a considerable amount of space dealing with it. Remember we are one in Christ who died for us and gave us the opportunity to be adopted into one family. And Christ gave us the perfect example of putting others before ourselves. May we follow that example and always “accept” and “welcome” one another.

View Full Content Source:

Add new comment

Restricted HTML

  • You can align images (data-align="center"), but also videos, blockquotes, and so on.
  • You can caption images (data-caption="Text"), but also videos, blockquotes, and so on.