Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each one of us please his neighbor for that which is good, to be building him up.Romans 15:1-2
This admonition from Paul comes within the context of sorting through the varieties of opinions and traditions that were evident within the burgeoning Messianic community. Some had traditional fasting days each week, others would not eat meat from the markets because it had been sacrificed to idols. All of these collective variations in practice were coming together in the body of Messiah to become one people.
A similar equivalent in Christianity today might be to have Methodists, Lutherans, Quakers, Catholics, along with any other non-denominational Protestant group gather together for a pot-luck each week, and all get along and be united. This was the type of challenge that Paul was attempting to overcome in this passage.
Sectarian differences are evident within all religions, and Christianity is no different (in fact, dare I say, it excels) in that regard. We have allowed ourselves to become extremely fragmented and isolated from one another rather than strengthened by one another in the unity of the instruction of God.
Therefore let’s not judge one another any more, but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block in his brother’s way, or an occasion for falling. … Yet if because of food your brother is grieved, you walk no longer in love. Don’t destroy with your food him for whom Christ died.Romans 14: 13, 15
The exhibition of love and compassion among believers is to not put stumbling blocks in each others’ way. Rather than focus on our differences, Paul is saying, let’s put our personal opinions aside and focus on encouraging and building one another up.
I, therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to walk worthily of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and humility, with patience, bearing with one another in love, being eager to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, even as you also were called in one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in us all.Ephesians 4:1-6
For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus…1 Timothy 2:5
If we could start there in our communication with each other (one God, the Father, and one Lord, the Messiah), we can begin to realize the unity that God envisions for his people. Regardless of our opinions about non-essential things, we could become peacemakers who seek to honor our Lord by edifying one another and strengthening one another.
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