I had dinner with a friend and they told me how in their Church they have a retired minister who does not agree with him over a topical issue for the Church. I’m reflecting on that this morning. Ever been in a similar situation? In such situations we often are tempted to try and change their minds and to convince them of the reasons why our position is the correct one. This Pastor however spoke with the retired minister and said ‘because we have far more that we do agree on I am not going to permit this issue to divide us.’
“If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died …Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food.” (Romans 14 v 15, 20)
Have you noticed that even though Paul calls them ‘weak in faith’ he is not asking them ‘to get their act together’, to ‘come into the first century’ and he doesn’t shame them for not holding to what the ‘strong’ believe. He is clear that he doesn’t agree with their position, he is in the ‘strong’ camp who understand the freedom that Christ has given them. He calls them ‘weak’ for he knows they must grow in these issues (e.g. Mosaic laws around food). But loving them is more important than the unity of the issue.
Why is it in striving for unity someone not only gets ‘distressed’ but sometimes even destroyed? It is because often we think unity is solely an agreed position. It is because the act of love is not higher than our own cause.
So take a look at your own Church. Look at your ‘weaker’ members. Can you imagine a Church where each one of us are not demanding the other to change? Can you imagine a Church where our lifestyles are in check lest we distress the other? If you can then you have a picture of real love. If you can then it is because you are recognising Jesus gave his life for each one. If you can then the work of God is thriving in this atmosphere of love.