Romans 14-15 – Christian Tolerance

Romans 14&15 spends a great deal of time expanding the idea of the how the weak and strong in faith should interact with each other (you can listen to last Sunday’s sermon on this passage here.) This section of scripture lays the foundation for what I believe has become an important ethos in the ministry of our church, namely people are accepted, loved and welcomed where they are at. Or as Paul puts it ‘Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarrelling over disputable matters’ (14:1) or ‘We who are strong ought to bear the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves’ (15:1). We are to ‘Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you’, which means on an individual level that you don’t have to be like me to be welcomed by me, and on a church level you don’t have to be like us to be a part of us. Jesus didn’t wait for us to change before He welcomed us, and we are to live in the same manner towards one another.

  • How easily does this sit with you?
  • Where/how have you seen this working or not working?

Rom 14:1 tells us not to quarrel over disputable matters, which helpfully reveals that there are disputable matters within the life of the church! Without doubt there are some core non negotiable truths and creedal statements, but there are also many ‘disputable matters’ that should not cause disunity between believers.

  • For the 1st century Roman church these disputable matters were to do with food and drink and sacred days, but what are the disputable matters of our day?
  • How do we go about accepting those who hold different views in these matters?
  • Are there grey areas between indisputable matters and disputable matters, if so can you think of any?
  • How do the strong go about bearing with the weak in these areas?
  • Have you been caused or felt pressure to stumble through other Christian’s ‘disputable matter’ beliefs? Share them so others may understand what the issues are.
  • How can we go about not causing others to stumble?

Rom 15:1 tells us that the strong in faith ought to bear with the failings of the weak.

  • Do you feel this could lead a church to sink to the lowest common denominator?
  • If so in what ways?

Rom 15:2 says we are to please our neighbour for their good to build them up. Which implies that the concern of the strong in faith should be the growth of the whole body in faith and not just their own individual spiritual development.
Rom 14:19 is a key summary verse of this whole section, ‘Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification’. We make every effort to do what leads to peace, accepting those who are weaker/different in disputable matters. And we do so with a desire and aim to see all edified because our goal is for everyone to grow in strength of faith.
This is the Jesus way!

  • Who’s responsibility is it to make every effort?
  • How do we go about making this happen?!

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