My readings this morning have me sitting with the first half of Romans 14. And it convicts and breaks my heart. The apostle Paul is lamenting how, from the earliest days of the Church, Christians judge each other.
14 Welcome the person who is weak in faith—but not in order to argue about differences of opinion. 2 One person believes in eating everything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. 3 Those who eat must not look down on the ones who don’t, and the ones who don’t eat must not judge the ones who do, because God has accepted them. 4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servants? They stand or fall before their own Lord (and they will stand, because the Lord has the power to make them stand).
12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.
13 So stop judging each other.
It breaks my heart because it’s still true, and I’m as guilty of it as anybody. (Exhibit A: I’m Lutheran because, of course, we have the best theology.) Even under the umbrella of The Church, we still judge others within our congregations, within denominations or non-denomination, and between denominations. Issues like sexuality, gay marriage, the death penalty, baptism, Hell, who’s saved, who’s not…these issues divide us as we judge each other. If someone disagrees with us within the walls of the Church, clearly they’re wrong. And because matters of faith matter so much to us, it becomes an all out war sometimes.
We’ve seriously missed the boat. I’m not advocating an anything goes, do what you want mentality either. It’s a sit with someone in love first and then journey together attitude. Who knows? Maybe you were wrong. Maybe I am wrong. Maybe we are both wrong, and God is waiting to show us a still more excellent way.
Paul’s advice, let’s welcome each other. Even if we judge someone else weaker in faith, we are to favor that person. We think we are supposed to straighten them out so they can be and think like us. The problem with that, we are all different and come from different backgrounds. The idealist in me wants us all to get along. We may never agree, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t serving the same Lord and Saviour.
Here’s our example to imitate. Jesus. “Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” You can be wrong, and God still loves you. If I think your are wrong, can I still love you? If you think I am wrong can you still love me?
Here’s to loving those who are wrong instead of judging them, arguing with them, and trying to fix them.
Who do you think is wrong? (Hint: Who gets under your skin the most)
Can you love them too? That’s the simple but difficult way.
Prayer: Lord, I judge others. Forgive me. You have shown me love first. Your love convicts me, but with grace. Help me to love others, especially when I think they’re wrong. If I am wrong, teach me, show me, change my heart. Amen.