Why Accept our Brothers?

 

The most important goal in the relationship between members of the church is to bring about the mutual love and acceptance of one another in truth. This is the Lord’s command (John 13:34). The church in Rome was composed of both Jewish and Gentile believers. Because of their differences in cultural and religious backgrounds, they maintained divergent views towards the eating of meat, drinking of wine, and keeping of festivals etc., to the extent of influencing their relationships with each other. In Romans chapter 14, Paul used their debate on the issues of foods consumption etc. to teach us that we must accept our brothers. Why must we? He listed the following reasons:

 

1.      Do not argue over less important matters (v. 1) – When Christians face difficult issues, they must come back to the word of God to seek guidance. Before understanding the teaching of the Bible or discerning the reason for someone’s action, the member must humbly seek knowledge and patiently listen, and also distinguish between the principles behind the relative scopes, weights, and orders of Biblical Truths before making any judgment. Do not argue over less important matters and make a rash condemnation (Philippians 2:14). For example, being united in Christ is a major principle. Which church-building plan is best is a minor principle.

2.      For God has accepted him (v. 2-3) – Whether a Christian does certain things or does not do certain things for the Lord, God will judge that person’s motives and actions. For God will search the heart and examine the innermost being of the person. He will repay each one by the goodness and wickedness of what he or she has done.  If God has accepted that person, then we must not condemn the one whom God has accepted.  Jesus Christ received sinners, and ate and drank with them. He was met with the criticism of the Pharisees and scribes because they did not know the love of God that leads sinners to repentance. The Children of God should have the Lord’s love and mercy, and learn to accept those whom God has accepted.

3.      God can make the weak stand (v. 4) – Some members may have temporarily fallen into situations of weakness or failure. But God does not reject those He foreknows. According to His choice by grace, God will again graft in those who are willing to turn back and believe in Him (Romans 11:2, 5, 23-24). Just as in the days of Elijah, God saved for Himself 7,000 people who did not bow to Baal. Today, what the church needs are admonitions and reminders that come out of love, and not criticism and accusations that come out of the flesh. Imagine, without Barnabas’ unwavering consolation and support, how Mark could have been of benefit to Paul’s missionary work?

4.      Although each person’s modus operandi may be different, it is all to glorify and thank God (v. 5-6) – Whatever we do, whether in word or deed, whether we eat or drink, we must do so in the name of Jesus Christ, and through Him give thanks to the Father and glory to God. (1 Corinthians 10:31, Colossians 3:17). In the house of God, some do certain things for the Lord, others refrain from doing certain things for the Lord. The most important point is in all things, give glory to God through the name of Jesus. For example, some members may feel it glorifies God more to be baptized during Easter, others believe that it glorifies God equally to be baptized on a Sunday.

5.      I no longer live, but Christ lives in me (v. 7-8) – Ill-will and contention between members often exist because everyone is so “self-centered” and sees himself as superior to the other person, neglecting humility and submission to the Lord. Since Jesus Christ died and then was resurrected for us all, He is our Saviour and Lord of our lives. How can we despise those He has redeemed with His own precious blood? For whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.

 

This writer hopes that everyone will understand the will of God and bring about the mutual love and acceptance of one another. I will continue to share on this topic in the next issue.

 

By: Daniel To