Thursday, December 2, 2010
What it Means to 'Welcome One Another'
We all have our own ideas of what it means to be welcoming, and usually it centers around physical hospitality. However, Paul takes “welcoming” several feet deeper in Romans 15 and shows us it has further implications than we might expect.
The command to "welcome one another" is to the point (15:7). But understanding what it means is best seen in the six verses preceding the command where it is further and logically explained in five facts that we'll state in a backwards fashion.
a. Welcoming’s goal is to glorify God together with one voice (v 6). Remember - it's unity not uniformity! In a word, harmony (like a beautiful symphony)!
b. God is glorified when there is harmony based around Jesus. (v 5)
c. This kind of harmony takes God’s Word and our work. (v 4)
d. Being selfless is the best way to work at harmony. (vs. 2-3)
e. Selflessness is first the responsibility of the strong. (v 1)
Succinctly, welcoming one another is pursuing peace in the middle of differing preferences.
In the text then, it was cultural and ceremonial; those were the differences in view here (not moral ones that Scripture speaks plainly on).
What we learn today is this -- when it comes to secondary issues, Paul makes it clear that we should strive to be a people of harmony and peace ... a called-out group that, even with our personal differences, genuinely gets along!
As was once wisely stated, in essentials unity. In non-essentials, liberty. In all things, charity.