Here’s this past week’s passage:
15:1 But we who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak, and not just please ourselves. 15:2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good to build him up. 15:3 For even Christ did not please himself, but just as it is written, “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.” 15:4 For everything that was written in former times was written for our instruction, so that through endurance and through encouragement of the scriptures we may have hope. 15:5 Now may the God of endurance and comfort give you unity with one another in accordance with Christ Jesus, 15:6 so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
15:7 Receive one another, then, just as Christ also received you, to God’s glory. 15:8 For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the circumcised on behalf of God’s truth to confirm the promises made to the fathers, 15:9 and thus the Gentiles glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, “Because of this I will confess you among the Gentiles, and I will sing praises to your name.” 15:10 And again it says: “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.” 15:11 And again, “Praise the Lord all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples praise him.” 15:12 And again Isaiah says, “The root of Jesse will come, and the one who rises to rule over the Gentiles, in him will the Gentiles hope.” 15:13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in him, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
This section on extending grace towards believers who differ in the gray areas has been good for me. I’m wired to be black and white, and to judge others who take a different stance on issues. How freeing it is to let go of those things and focus on love. And how useful. It’s about unity, love, and treating others with honor.
The other night we were having dinner with some good Catholic friends, who would naturally lean towards a more Democratic viewpoint. They shared about how they encountered rather hostile treatment from a New Covenant person over the issue of what to think of Obama. It left them feeling put off and I’m sure made them wonder if being evangelical always means being judgmental and unpleasant. Our family tried our best to represent grace to them.
How much better would it be for our cause if the primary thing felt radiating from us was love. I contend that love can and should be communicated even when there’s legitimate disagreement on such gray areas as politics.
Sure there will be issues of black-and-white truth that may offend others. I’m not saying we back off on our convictions. But I am saying that we can learn from Romans 14-15 about the importance of love over most of the petty things we judge others by.
Verse 17 sums it up pretty well: Receive one another, then, just as Christ also received you, to God’s glory.