Reading: Romans 14: 1-12
Verses 7 and 8: For none of us lives to himself alone… We belong to the Lord.
Paul begins chapter fourteen by imploring Christians to not pass judgement on others because others do not worship and practice their faith just as they do. Instead Paul urges Christians to model acceptance and to have understanding for their fellow believers. For the Jews who had accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, they entered their new faith with their old faith’s worship and dietary guidelines still intact. They wanted the new believers to worship and eat as they did. In effect they wanted to new followers to be Jewish Christians. On the other side of the aisle, many of the new converts came with their own cultural background and practices. Therefore they did not want to change some of these things, especially if they did not see how they were incompatible with what Jesus taught and did.
The same tendencies to judge and condemn others still exists today both within our churches and between churches. The hot topic can be a wide variety of things. Between people in a church it can be things like worship style or who is welcome or over what one does on a Friday night. Between churches it can be over how one receives salvation or it can be over how we practice or understand baptism or communion. Whatever the case, Paul’s advice is the same: do not judge but seek to accept and understand one another. Paul says we must do this because ultimately, “none of us lives to himself alone… We belong to the Lord”.
Christ is the one who unites all Christians and all Christian churches. There is one God, one Christ, and one Holy Spirit. God created each and every one of us and loves us all dearly and equally. Jesus taught live and grace to all people He met and went to the cross to give forgiveness of sins and a way to eternal life for all people. The promise if the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to lead and guide our lives was a promise and gift to everyone. May we each seek to love God and to love all of our neighbors as Christ loves us, bringing unity and strength to the whole body of Christ, to the church universal.