Tag Archives: Unity

Oneness

So I, the prisoner in the Lord Jesus, beg you to live as though you were worthy of God’s invitation…

Be completely humble, gentle, and patient…

Put up with one another in love…

          Try hard to keep the Spirit’s unity…

Use peace to tie it together.

There is one body and one Spirit…

You were called to one hope, when God called you…

There is one Lord Jesus…

There is one faith…

There is one immersion…

There is one God.

He is the Father of everyone. God is above everything, through everything, and in everything.

– Paul
Ephesians 4.1-6
The Great Book

 

Unity Is More Important Than Being “Right”

Reflections on Romans 14 & 15

“Therefore let us not judge one another any more, but rather determine this – not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way” (Romans 14.13).

Not a Kingdom Requirement

It’s astounding that Paul said, “The kingdom of God does not consist of eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14.17). The notion that eating and drinking, referring to the Jewish food laws, is not a kingdom requirement dramatically breaks with those who considered Leviticus the commandment of the Lord for the church. Paul is declaring a sea change in the way the Old Testament Scriptures are understood in the church.

Yet…

Paul counsels abstention from those foods prohibited under the law not as a matter of keeping the law but as an act of freedom on behalf of the unity of God’s people. Paul considers the embodied unity of the people of God as the primary sign of the kingdom coming in Jesus. Our freedom must serve the unity that Christ gives.

The church is the sign to the principalities and the powers of the multidimensional wisdom of God revealed in the Messiah (Ephesians 3.10). Division over “eating and drinking” would destroy the church’s witness to the eternal purposes of God.

At the close of this part of Romans (15.5-13), Paul casts a vision so big and so foundational that agreement on food laws pale in significance. Our small, divided, sectarian minds have trouble imagining such.

At the close of this part of Romans (15.5-13), Paul casts a vision so big and so foundational that agreement on food laws pale in significance. Our small, divided, sectarian minds have trouble imagining such.

“Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus,so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God. For I say that Christ has become a servant to the circumcision on behalf of the truth of God to confirm the promises given to the fathers, and for the Gentiles to glorify God for His mercy; as it is written…” (Romans 15.50-9).

 And the Gentiles Will Praise God with the Jews

Paul then quotes several Old Testament passages that anticipate the Gentiles praising God in community with the Jews. “Therefore I will praise Thee among the Gentiles; I will sing hymns to Thy name” (2 Samuel 22.50; Psalm 18.49). Again it says, “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people” (Deuteronomy 32.43). And again, “Praise the LORD, all you Gentiles, and sing praises to Him all you peoples” (Psalm 117.1). Isaiah said, “The root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; the Gentiles will hope in Him” (Isaiah 11.10).

Jews and Gentiles together in Christ, justified by grace through faith and alive in the Spirit, are witness to the fulfillment of the promise to Abraham that through Israel’s seed the nations would be blessed. Paul then offers additional Old Testament texts that anticipate the Gentiles praising the Lord in the new community of believers. Therefore, division over the food laws dishonors the promise of the Lord to Abraham and the prophetic visions of the prophets.

For Paul, division over the food laws obscures and even hides the significance of the reconciling work of God in Christ for the whole world. Unity together preserves the church’s witness to Christ’s work and embodies the blessing of Abraham in the world!

(Jim Reynolds, Sermon Seminar Notes)