Accepting Those Who Differ: Lessons On Unity From Romans 14 And 15 -- By: Larry E. McCall

Journal: Reformation and Revival
Volume: RAR 08:3 (Summer 1999)
Article: Accepting Those Who Differ: Lessons On Unity From Romans 14 And 15
Author: Larry E. McCall

Accepting Those Who Differ: Lessons On
Unity From Romans 14 And 15

Larry E. McCall

I was recently conversing with a brother from outside the United States about a conference his church was sponsoring. Invited to this conference were people from a broad cross section of Calvinistic Baptist churches. We each noted how difficult it would be to expect such a conference to be well attended in the United States. We grieved together that American churches which have so much in common with one another nevertheless often will hold each other at arm’s length over issues that the Bible clearly delineates as matters of “liberty.” Are these divisions pleasing to the Head of the church? If they are not, then by what means can unity be pursued?

Often unity is thought to happen by “you becoming like me.” Occasionally, one might meet an unusually humble person who seeks unity by “I need to become like you.” Even more common, however, are the well-intended efforts to compromise. “Each of us needs to become a bit more like the other.” Each of these briefly mentioned attempts at unity fall short. I propose, through the following study of Romans 14:1–15:7, that unity is neither “you need to become like me” nor “I need to become like you.” Rather, unity is to be pursued “by each of us becoming more like Jesus Christ.”

The diversity we see among churches is often seen within our local bodies of believers as well. How diverse are the people in your local church? In the typical church in our western culture, there are people of various races, ethnic

backgrounds, educational levels, vocations, marital statuses, ages, and communities of residence. Added to these differences are the varieties of “salvation histories” of the church members. Some were saved as children growing up in Christian homes, some saved as teens or college students, and still others saved out of lifestyles of shameful worldliness when older. Now to add even more to the variety, people in the church hold different convictions and preferences regarding style of music, style of dress, Bible translations, etc.

Yet, all the members of the church profess to believe in and follow the same Lord. We all profess to be part of this one body of believers. How can this work? How can such a diverse group of people ever live and function with peace and unity? How can such a diverse group of people ever function as a cohesive body of believers? How can we ever work together in promoting the cause of Christ in our own community and generation? Is it any wonder that some churches experience painful church splits? How has your church fac...

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