Reading: Romans 15:4-13
Verse 7: “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.”
Paul speaks to us today and tomorrow about living out our faith. He begins by pointing us towards scripture, saying, “Everything that was written in the past was written to teach us.” God’s wisdom and guidance is found in the written word. Insights and lessons are given. Through these words, Paul says, we have hope.
Paul then prays that the endurance and encouragement that comes from God will “give you a spirit of unity” as they strive to follow Jesus Christ. The unity and the strength found therein were needed for Christians living in a largely hostile world. Speaking and praising God with “one heart and mouth” not only spoke to the world, it also spoke to their own hearts. “Together” is always better than “alone.”
To that point, Paul says, “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” Unity does not mean homogeny. Unity does not mean an exact same understanding of the scriptures or of the faith. With Christ at the center and as their example, acceptance of one another would build unity and strength as the body of faith.
Coming back around to where he began, Paul quotes from the same scriptures in verses 9-12. Here he is working to expand their understanding of the word “accept.” Paul is asking the church in Rome to open up to the Gentiles, all outside the Jewish faith. He is asking them to see unity in a new way. It is a stretching of the circle. The hope they find in Christ can be a hope for all people. The church in Rome will begin to grow as these seeds begin to bear fruit. May it be so for each of us as well.
Prayer: Lord God, thank you for your word today. It is a word with challenge – unity, acceptance, welcome. Sometimes these are hard to practice. So I turn to you and ask for a widening of my heart. May the spirit of Christ be in me. Amen.