This week we continue talking about how to apply the truth in Romans 14.
4. Enlarge Your Circle of Friends.
I think its healthy to have friends who disagree with you about some things. If you are a vegetarian and all your friends are vegetarians, how stunted and small is your vision of the Christian life. It’s good to have a few friends who truly like you but don’t see eye-to-eye with you on every issue. After all, if two people agree on everything, one of them is unnecessary.
If you love energetic Christian rock and roll, great! But make sure you have some friends who can share with you the theology and beauty of traditional hymns. If you sing with a straight face, try hanging out with the folks who love to laugh, clap, dance and raise their hands when they worship. It won’t hurt you to expand your circle of friends beyond people who think just like you do.
5. Focus on Things that Unite Us, Not on Things that Divide Us.
This ought to go without saying, but I need to emphasize it because there is something in human nature that seems to divide us into little groups. The great unifying factor for the people of God is the Lord Jesus Christ. He has broken down the wall that separated us from God and from one another. In him we are joined together in the body of Christ.
We might state the principle this way: Everyone who belongs to Jesus belongs to me. Read the great list in Eph. 4:4-6 of the things that unite us: one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all. These are the “primary issues” of the Christian life. These are the things that have always been believed by all Christians everywhere. They unite the body of Christ across the generations and across geographic, political, racial and national boundaries.
Focus on these things! They matter far more than playing the saxophone in church or whether it is sinful to play video games. When these secondary issues are weighed against the standard of “one Lord,” it comes in a distant 2nd.
Remember the words of St. Augustine: “In essentials unity, in non-essentials diversity, in all things charity (love).”
6. Live So That No One Can Criticize Your Decisions.
That means living a truly Christian life, one marked by gracious humility, kindness, compassion, love for others, honesty, integrity, and hope amid life’s difficulties. If these things are present in your life, then it won’t matter whether or not you go fishing or what you wear to church on Sunday, Tuesday or Saturday.
Live so that those who disagree with you look up to you as a model worth following.
While it is true that everyone else will stand before God, you and I must remember it’s also true that you and I will stand before God. Live in such a way that you have nothing to fear in that awesome day.
When we see that the solution to disagreement is the one thing that matters most of all – Jesus Christ – we will come to understand how Unity is a precious gift from God. When a church is united, it can accomplish amazing things.