Tuesday, July 31, 2012

In All Things, Charity

"One Year Bible" New Testament Passage
Romans 14:1-23

Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things. ... One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. Romans 14:1,5 (NKJV)

From whence come all these denominational divisions, all these divergent opinions, all these differences in Christ's beautiful Body?  Are we not called to walk with each other in love?  Yet we find arguments, offenses, divisions, fights that rend the fabric of God-ordained relationships within the Church.  Ought we not to have grace and acceptance toward one another rather than competition, criticism, and distrust?  How can we find the common ground of cooperation in the Body of Christ?

St. Augustine coined a phrase which John Wesley loved to quote: "In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity."  He was addressing the manner in which the Church, the Body of Christ, is to cooperate together in the world. 

Paul addresses this in Romans 14.  He warns us to refrain from "disputes over doubtful things" (vs. 1).  This means that we ought to be able to discuss our different interpretations of Scripture without descending into argument.  The "doubtful things" here are matters of personal opinion, not foundational essentials of the faith.

Traditions are not necessarily bad.  They are simply our own ways of doing things.  "One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike."  One church observes communion one way, while another church uses a different approach.  One church has hymn books while another 
projects the songs on a screen.  One fellowship uses a liturgy while another prefers unstructured spontaneity. "Let each be fully convinced that his own way is best for him." 

But, IN ALL THINGS, CHARITY.  In all things, let the the love of God cover our non-essential

May we be united in this:  That JESUS IS LORD.  THE SCRIPTURE IS TRUE.  Men need the REGENERATING WORK OF REDEMPTION.  Beyond these essentials, we must allow liberty. 

Like a great army so will be the great Body of Christ.  We are different in our various functions, our various assignments, our various emphases.  But we are united in the cause of Jesus Christ.  May the world know that He is Lord!

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