Romans 15:1-13 – We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, “Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles, and sing to your name.” And again it is said, “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.” And again, “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples extol him.” And again Isaiah says, “The root of Jesse will come, even he who arises to rule the Gentiles; in him will the Gentiles hope.” May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
I got saved at the age of 19 in college and I ended up going to a great church where they loved Jesus and taught the Bible, and the pastor was a wonderful guy. It was a great place to start as a new believer.
But I had gone all the way through high school as a non-Christian, so I didn’t really have many Christian friends other than Grace. Then, I heard a guy I went to high school with had also become a Christian, so I’m super excited because I’m a new Christian and one of my buddies I played sports with had become a Christian.
When I would come home on breaks from college, I would get together with him, and I told him my story and he told me his story and it was really cool. We prayed together and had a brand-new kind of friendship.
So, I went off to college again and we would meet up every time I would come back into town. But every time we would get together, it would get worse, and it would get harder, and it would get sadder.
The first time, he asked me if I was reading my Bible and I told him I was and that I was really enjoying it. Then he asks me what translation I’m reading, and he tells me he thinks the King James Version is the only right Bible translation and anything that isn’t the King James is wrong. So, I tell him I, of course, disagree with that. He gives me a large book on why the King James Bible is the only version of the Bible.
I go back to college, and I come back, and I tell him I’ve gotten baptized, and he said he had gotten baptized too, so I’m really excited. He asks me if I was baptized in the name of Jesus or in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I tell him in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit because that’s what Jesus says to do, and he says he got baptized in the name of Jesus and it doesn’t count if you don’t do it that way. I mean, Jesus was included in mine, seems like I covered my bases with all three. So then, he gives me another book on why the way I was baptized was wrong and his way was right.
The next time I come back from college, he asks me what worship looks like at my church. Of course, he says you should only sing the hymns and that you shouldn’t sing contemporary music because drums are demonic. That’s news to me, and all of a sudden, I feel bad for the drummers. Guess what he gives me? Another book on why contemporary worship is demonic. All of a sudden, this friendship is coming with a lot of homework.
In further conversations, he tells me that street witnessing is the only way to share your faith and that he knows exactly when Jesus is coming back.
The moral of the story is that he had a line, and I had a line, and those lines were in different places. We each have a “line” about what is Christian or non-Christian and, oftentimes, we add our own legalisms to that line, but we should ultimately align our line with what God says the line should be in the Bible.
Because our lines were in different places, it made our relationship very painful and difficult and, eventually, he wouldn’t meet with me anymore. He told me I was worldly; I told him he was judgy. He wouldn’t spend time with me anymore because he didn’t believe I was doing things right. To me, loving each other was right, not doing everything right because we both have faults and flaws. If we have the same principle, it’s ok if we have different methods. And if God is pleased with you and me, we should be pleased with each other.
What methods have you added to God’s principles that you’ve judged others by that you need to repent of?
To find the free Romans 12-16 digital study guide for individuals and small groups, hear Pastor Mark’s entire sermon series on Romans, or find a free mountain of Bible teaching visit realfaith.com or download the Real Faith app.