“Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, “Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles, and sing to your name.” And again it is said, “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.” And again, “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples extol him.” And again Isaiah says, “The root of Jesse will come, even he who arises to rule the Gentiles; in him will the Gentiles hope.” May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope” (Romans 15:7–13 ESV).
The more racialized our world becomes, the greater the opportunity for the church
The church in Rome was missing out on an incredible opportunity to display the power of the gospel to bring people together. They were dividing within the church along the lines of race and religious tradition. They were failing to love and welcome each other. Imagine if there was social media back then. What kinds of media posts and snarky articles might each side be promoting? Each side insinuating they were right and the other group in the church was wrong. Romans 14 shows they were argumentative, condescending, and self-righteous toward each other. In other words, they were acting like everyone else in Rome. And they were missing a powerful opportunity.
Are we missing an opportunity in our day? As a church, we are trying not to. Many years ago, we set a course to be an ethnically-diverse church. We presently have a Chinese Mandarin congregation. A downtown Gary campus. We have ambitions to minister to other Northwest Indiana ethnicities. Why? Romans 15. God’s glory. Christ’s gospel. Christ’s example. Welcoming into our hearts gospelized people who see some things differently.
But this requires a culture in our church of welcoming. Welcoming people with different perspectives and traditions and language and looks and stories. Not diversity on essential doctrines. But with all these other non-essential things, can you welcome those who Christ welcomes?
- If your politics keep you from accepting a true Christian politically different from you, your politics are an idol.
- If your skin color keeps you from accepting a Christian ethnically different from you, your ethnicity is an idol.
- If your preferences keep you from accepting a Christian preferentially different from you, your preferences are an idol.
- If your _____________ keep you from accepting someone Christ accepts, your_____________ is your idol and identity.
“Welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God” (v. 7).
The kicker is that the world doesn’t have an answer for this, we do. Let’s not blow it! This requires each of us to conduct ourselves in a welcoming manner and collectively the culture of the church looks like verse 7. The gospel is the only power in this world to bring the ethne together.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
© 2021 by Steve DeWitt. You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that: (1) you credit the author, (2) any modifications are clearly marked, (3) you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, (4) you include Bethel’s website address (www.bethelweb.org) on the copied resource.
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