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Friends in Christ Weekly Message
September 10, 2005

     Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don't see things the way you do. And don't jump all over them every time they do or say something you don't agree with - even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department. Remember, they have their own history to deal with. Treat them gently.
     For instance, a person who has been around for a while might well be convinced that he can eat anything on the table, while another, with a different background, might assume all Christians should be vegetarians and eat accordingly. But since both are guests at Christ's table, wouldn't it be terribly rude if they fell to criticizing what the other ate or didn't eat? God, after all, invited them both to the table. Do you have any business crossing people off the guest list or interfering with God's welcome? If there are corrections to be made or manners to be learned, God can handle that without your help.
     Or, say, one person thinks that some days should be set aside as holy and another thinks that each day is pretty much like any other. There are good reasons either way. So, each person is free to follow the convictions of conscience.

Romans 14:1-5 (Message*)

Some Christians are quick to "correct" other Christians whose views on most any matter are different from their own. But Paul, who devoted so much effort to explaining the meaning of Christ's message and developing a theology around it, clearly indicates that there's room for difference among Christians on some matters - even matters like diet and the observance of special days about which many Christians feel quite strongly. Not everything is as clear-cut as we sometimes think.

Paul is placing unity in Christian love above unity on all matters of doctrine. He urges us to be gentle with one another, observing that God can correct other Christians without our help. Our fellow believers might disagree with us on some matters of doctrine and practice, and perhaps even be wrong about them. But we still should welcome them with open arms as brothers and sisters in the faith.

This provides us with food for prayer and reflection. Do I welcome with open arms Christians with different perspectives on some matters from my own? Am I gentle with fellow believers with whom I disagree? Do I trust God to correct other Christians?

Bill Samuel

* The Message version ©2002 by Eugene H. Peterson.

©2005 Friends in Christ, Inc.

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Document last modified on Saturday, 17-Sep-2005 17:18:14 EDT