17th Sun. after Pentecost
Our Savior Lutheran Church
Pagosa Springs, Colorado
September 22, 1996
(We all have our built-in biases about how life ought to be conducted. We are all tempted to serve what we perceive to be our own best interest and our own opinions. We all seem to harbor within us an overpowering need to be right and to get our way on issues about which we feel strongly. The Christians in the Roman congregation were the same as we are in this regard...)
AS SINFUL HUMAN BEINGS, WE WANT TO SERVE OUR OWN AGENDA'S.
In Rome, those eating everything were certain that they were right!
It seems the Jewish Christians were still conscious-bound to follow the dietary restrictions of the Old Testament while the Gentile Christians in that congregation felt no restrictions at all.
Here was a two-way temptation:
The Gentile Christians looked down on the Jewish Christians who were still bound up in Jewish traditions.
The Jewish Christians looked down on the Gentile Christians for offensive behavior toward their traditions.
Both were wrong about what was required for Christian fellowship.
In truth, one's diet has no spiritual significance what-so-ever. (I Cor. 8:8-9)
Christians do not need to agree on all matters pertaining to the Christian life.
These matters are called adiaphora or matters neither commanded nor forbidden by the Scriptures.
Undoubtedly there was a bit of a brough-ha-ha going on in the Roman congregation over this matter or Paul would not have spent the time to address it.
Today, too, the Christian congregation can get caught up in the same kind of unnecessary dispute:
Not every member of our congregation is at the same maturity level in the faith.
It might be more accurate to say that probably none of us is exactly at the same location on our journey of faith.
Paul is strongly saying that the weaker brother/sister should not be judged in such matters when there is no clear instruction from theLord.
The unity of faith in the congregation should not be jeopardized by indifferent matters.
The weaker brother/sister ought to be welcomed as they are.
This does not apply to matters of doctrine.
One of the great misuses of these passages is to conclude that it doesn't matter what one believes when the Scriptures do speak with clarity.
It does matter what we teach about the person and work of Christ.
It does matter what we teach regarding the grace of Christ given us in our baptism.
It does matter that we believe alike regarding the nature and benefits of the Lord's Supper.
It does matter that we know, together, how we stand justified before God in Christ.
What is being warned against here is to permit matters of conscious, which are not commanded nor forbidden by God's Word, to divide us.
IN ALL SUCH MATTERS, WE ARE CALLED TO CONSIDER CHRIST AND TO SERVE HIM.
Our lives are on God's agenda, not ours.
His agenda is predicated on love and acceptance of sinners.
Here we do not speak of tolerance, but acceptance without reservation.
Here God is 100 % in our court...unconditional acceptance.
There remains a lot about us that God could "clean up", but that does not stop Him from being in fellowship with Him.
On God's agenda, there is a new set of attitudes and priorities.
Here there is a recognition that it is God who is right...not necessarily us.
It is enough that we honor the other person who is our brother/sister in Christ. (Romans 12:10)
It is enough that we seek to honor Christ with our priorities.
It is enough that we attempt to make decisions with the eyes of Christ.
What is absolutely essential, is the attitude of servanthood.
We are here to bring the weak along, not just correct them.
ILLUS: How many times did Jesus continue to deal with the weaknesses of his apostles?
Peter, suggesting that Christ's death should not occur.
James & John looking for positions of power at the right and left hand of Jesus in His kingdom.
Peter slicing off the ear of Malcus on the evening of His betrayal.
Christ is our model of servanthood and agenda setting.
In Christ, the agenda of others becomes our agenda.
ILLUS: (# 1193) Two men in a pit.
Perhaps it is our privilege to be that help from above to one who is weak in faith and in need of a Savior...You can be a Savior with skin on as Christ is for us.
Yes, friends, we are on an agenda today. The only question is whose agenda is it? Are we desperately trying to be right over issues of little or not consequence? Is the result that there is little or no peace in your life? Then it's time to look again at Christ and consider the Lord. As people who have been hauled out of the pit of sin, we can, as Christ did for us, accept others with all their infirmities and short-comings, just as they have accept you with yours. It's time to apply the grace of God in the family of God and to the family who will be Gods by being the help from above for others! In Jesus name. Amen.
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