An exposition of Romans 14:13-23. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, May 16, 2010.
It’s the thing that brings beauty to the symphony. It is what enables each individual instrument to shine and yet become part of a greater beauty. Harmony or unity within diversity. No one wants to go to a concert and hear a monotone performance any more than they want chaos. Each instrument doing its own thing without regard for the others is just noise, it’s grating and irritating. But the whole, brought under the control of the conductor, playing off one another and working in harmony is exquisite. So it is within the church. “How beautiful it is for brothers to dwell together in unity,” the Scripture says. On the other hand there is nothing as ugly, irritating or discouraging as a divided, dysfunctional and disjointed church. The Bible is clear when you come to faith in Christ you are not left to your own devices. You are made part of the whole. You are made part of the body of Christ and God intends that you join with a local body of believers where you share your life, give your talents and seek to grow and mature in your faith. The church is the place where we live our faith together.
Thus the church is essential to our well being spiritually. You cannot be the person God has called you to be if you are not vitally and essentially tied to a local church. Now listen to what I said. I did not say you cannot be a Christian. I said you cannot be the person God has called you to be if you are not tied to or connected with a church. It is here in the laboratory of living together that we learn how to love and how to forgive. It is here in the daily business of life together we knock the rough edges off each other and begin to look more like the Lord Jesus. But life together is not easy. Sometimes you make me mad. Sometimes I tick you off. We say stupid things to each other. We can be uncaring and hurtful. We are, after all, flawed children of Adam. The issue is, what do we do about it? How do we respond to the hurt and the disappointment? Too often we in the church exhibit more of the power of the world to divide then we do the power of the Gospel to make us one. As Dr. MacGorman used to say to us in seminary, “A divided church has nothing to say to a broken world.”
The church is to be a place of harmony. A place of love, compassion and acceptance. It is here we ought to feel the freedom to fail. It is here we ought to feel the freedom to confess our sin knowing that we are going to find love and acceptance. It is here we ought to be able to confess our doubts and fears knowing that there are others who’ve traveled this road and know those same doubts and fears. We ought to be able to question and express our differences knowing that iron sharpens iron. It is here we ought to hear the sweet song of the Gospel bringing peace to our soul. Sure we are all different. We are each unique but together, under the Lordship of Christ, we are to be God’s symphony. Our text this morning is found in the 14th chapter of Paul’s letter to the church at Rome.
Text: Romans 14:13-23
This is life as God intends. Last time looked at “disputed matters.” Those questions not spelled out explicitly in the Scripture. Those areas where there is room for honest disagreement between genuine believers. Issues about which we may have strong feelings but issues not worth dividing over. Paul continues that line of thought.
Last time was about how we ought to look at things.
- We are to embrace fellow believers as brothers & sisters to be loved and not as projects of reform.
- We are to ensure that our own hearts are right when it comes to disputed matters.
- We are to remember that we will each stand before God and give an account for our own life.
This morning we turn our attention to the demands of biblical unity. How do we build on the foundation Christ has laid? What are we to do to maintain the unity of the Spirit? As we explore our text we are going to discover that…
Thesis: Biblical unity demands an eternal perspective, a steadfast determination and a guiding conviction.
There are three demands of biblical unity found in this text.
- Unity within the body demands a steadfast determination not to be a source of stumbling. (14:13-15)
- Unity within the body demands a fixed point of reference anchored to that which is eternal. (14:16-18)
- Unity within the body demands a settled conviction about the importance of edification and self-sacrifice. (14:19-23)