Accept One Another
August 8, 2021
In the early 1980s I moved with my parents to a new city and our family began looking for a new church. One Sunday we entered worship at another new place that (at least by name) sounded orthodox — and things seemed normal enough. But as I think about that morning almost 40 years later, not much stands out except for about two minutes of the sermon. I don’t remember his sermon passage, or the theme of the sermon, but I remember a few lines of application from the sermon. It went something like this:
Some of you have been in this church for decades and for decades you haven’t spoken to other members of the church. You sit on opposite sides of the sanctuary. When one of you walks in a room, the other walks out. You refuse to sit at the same table at a fellowship meal. There is disharmony in the body, and it’s not right.
I never found out what had happened to create that disunity or if it was ever resolved because I never went back to that church (that part of the sermon was hardly a compelling welcome: “come join our church…”). But I’ve thought about that church many times, because that story could be told over and over in the history of Christ’s church. While He has called us to be one, He has made us one, and He has exhorted us to live as one, too often churches become fractured and split.
There are many things that can split churches: theology (and the departure from sound theology), sin (and sin that is unaddressed), lack of care of individuals in the church, favoritism (as in Corinth), politics (as we are seeing today), personal preferences, and more. But are there reasons for staying together? Are there reasons for unity? What (if anything) will compel us to stay together and work together in harmony?
From the beginning of Romans 14, we’ve seen one theme dominate 14:1 – 15:6ff: Use your individual freedoms as a means of preserving the corporate unity of the Body. In his summation of this section, and as he transitions to his discussion of the gospel and missions, Paul says,
Because Christ has accepted us, we accept one another.
Paul seems to acknowledge the difficulty of embracing one another in love when we want our liberties, so he concludes this section on liberty with the same call he made in 14:1. As he exhorts us to accept one another, Paul provides three considerations about the importance of accepting one another:
- Accept One Another (v. 7a)
- Accept One Another Because Christ Has Accepted Us All (v. 7b-13)
- Christ has accepted all for God’s glory (v. 7b)
- Christ has accepted the Jews for God’s glory (v. 8)
- Christ has accepted Gentiles for God’s glory (vv. 9-12)
- Accept One Another by the Spirit’s Power (v. 13)
Download the rest of this sermon on Romans 15:7-13.
The audio will be posted on the GBC website by tomorrow.