Saturday, June 2

Disputed matters

Scripture: Proverbs 22-24, Romans 14

Romans 14:1 Accept anyone who is weak in faith, but don’t argue about disputed matters.

Observation

Paul is addressing some “disputed matters”—acceptable diet and day of worship—that were causing divisions.  This is his topic sentence that introduces this subject; he spends most of ch. 14-15 developing it.  

His basic idea is that there are some issues on which Christians can disagree and still be Christians.  When we are with someone who differs, the way of love is to not argue with them and if possible, adapt our behavior to avoid offending them.  He says in v. 15, “For if your brother or sister is hurt by what you eat, you are no longer walking according to love.  Do not destroy, by what you eat, someone for whom Christ died.”   Obviously, the person is more important than the issue.  

But it’s not always clean and simple…

Application

There are a plethora of these kinds of issues dividing Christians today.  For example, people recently left Life Center because we have women teach in the main services.  I believe this is an issue on which sincere believers may disagree. 

But here is where it gets sticky.  Because it’s a public issue, not private, offense is unavoidable.  If we defer to the people who don’t think women should teach or lead, we miss out on the voices of women, and we prevent them from using their God-given gifts, and risk offending them.  On the other hand, if we defer to the people who think women can and should teach or lead, we risk offending the other side.  On some issues like this one, you risk offending someone either way because it’s corporate, not personal.  You’re going to land on one side or the other, and either way, you offend people.  

In a situation like this, I think Paul would encourage us to not take offense.  Hold your conviction in private, but don’t let it break relationships.  (v 22-23)  The person is more important than the issue.  

And it is good for us to be in relationship with people who are different, who see things differently.  We are prone to group with those like us, those who look like us and think like us.  We would be immeasurably better and richer if we were willing to group with those who are different.  So don’t let a disagreement over a secondary issue cause you to withdraw and leave.  You’ll be better if you can embrace the person and live with the discomfort!

Prayer: Today Lord I pray for your divided church.  We make so many issues more important than You or each other.  Forgive us, and help us to hold our opinions with love for the other.