For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. It is written: “ ‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’ ” So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God. Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. [NRSV: Romans 14:7-13]
What are the best foods each holiday?
- Best tailgate food?
- Best Halloween candy?
- Best Thanksgiving side dish?
- Best Christmas food?
Look, we have just divided ourselves into different groups based on our preferences, heritage, and practice.
In the context of election if there is someone who will or has vote/d in all of the opposite candidates, why argue with them and divide your relationship? Which is more important to press someone to belief, or hold fast yourself and allow them to learn from your faithfulness?
- We get impatient
- We are lured to believe what we here,
- We trust opinions without review, and
- We stand on principles that are not grounded in God.
First, Paul is saying, don’t divide and create enemies over trivial things. Don’t close the door on a relationship just to be right. INSTEAD, be righteous in your own thinking and actions, AND surrender yourselves to CHRIST, and let God be the judge of things.
Part Two – be open to love everyone.
If God only loves and be-friends us when we are good and blameless, then God would have condemned us all long ago.
John 3, while we were yet sinner, he sent his son, to give his live for ours. Even though rejecting the sin, God embraces us in the hope that we learn from the life, and sacrifice of Christ and come to understand, believe, trust, and devote our lives to God, to Gods purpose.
Our denomination never lived into the motto, “Open hearts, minds, and doors” rather than hold one another accountable, and we adopted a new motto.
Part One – (Out of order because we typically think it is an afterthought or that we don’t need Spiritual growth or even Spiritual Maintenance.
Part One is that which we must master first: Accepting Christ has died and now lives for us personally, AND that we are surrendered to him with our own sin and struggle.
- Both parts are vital.
- Jesus both teaches the crowd of thousands AND feeds them.
- Jesus invited us to follow AND calls us to disciple others.
It’s not either-or. Our calling is to feed, clothe, and provide for those in physical needs, AND it is all to spiritually feed, spiritual clothing, and provide the spiritual Community for all.
Context of Romans: Paul, who wrote many letters as the social media of his day, shared this letter as his final letter. From this more mature place he becomes STRONG in CHRIST for himself, and TOLERANT of others less mature, so that his faith become his witness.
If I continue to sin, who, are we to judge any other person. Paul is clear that our job is NOT to be a spiritual judge. But we ARE to be passionate about building up the opportunities to transform our relationship as disciples. and leave the rest to God, who deals with us individually knowing the struggles and journey of every person. ( some laborers work all day some mid-day other the last our but all received the same reward.)
The Mature and reflective Paul
Even if some is wrong, be mature enough to to keep the relationship open, live out what you know to be true but do not make enemies.
Two people can be both wrong, and will also stand before God, whether they believe in God, accept God, or not.
Allowing someone the room to be wrong, but close enough to learn from being close
We belong to the lord
Whether people believe in God, God continues with love, hope, and waits in patience for each of us to come to know and to worship or reject God.
Ref. Isaiah 45:23> “every knee will bend and tongue confess or acknowledge” God is not only real, but also the author of life, love, and authority.
A mature player knows that tick tack toe ends up in a scratch more often than not and the two places that typically allow someone to win most every time. In card games, any strategy game the experienced player has the opportunity to teach the opponent to become a better player so that the game eventually is more Challenging and satisfying, OR they only play to win, which has glory at that moment only.
God is not gaming us, but is inviting us:
to AVOID being a stumbling block to others,
to be discipling others by welcoming and tolerating others,
and particularly ‘difficult’ relationships
As your neighbor the Charlie Brown Spiritual advice question: Q?
“Am I a Spiritual Blockhead?”
- Is my attitude
- or my behavior
- or my words keeping someone from seeing and know Christ lives in me?
A “Christian” high school played Frances’s volleyball team last night and just before the game, the other school was celebrating their victory over their last football game. The announcer said, “We are honoring our team for demolishing the competition.” Are we saying things that others hear, and doing things that others see, and closing relationship before they start or shuting doors, minds, and hearts from Christ.
- Don’t be a blockhead,
- don’t be a stumbling block,
- don’t be focused on the log with a speck in our own eye,
- be mature Christians.
- Be seasons in your own faith.
- Encourage, invited, inspire, inform, but don’t beat the sheep into submission. The Good Shepherd goes out looking until the lost are found and rejoices at THEIR return.