May 19: Accept Your Differences

Read Romans 14:1-15:7

“Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.”  (Rom. 15:7)

How much diversity is represented in your family?  Our two sons are vastly different while our daughter is somewhere in between.  My brother loves backpacking alone in the mountains.  I prefer holding hands with Celeste while we walk around Kinney Fields.  My grandfather was a rock collector and a hobby lapidarist (gemstone cutter) while grandma enjoyed knitting.

Of course those differences are somewhat neutral.  What if we start talking politics?  Is one family member a Republican while another is a Democrat?  Or how about faith issues?  Or what about spending habits?  These can be a bit more emotional topics.  They can cause us to draw hard lines and hold even family members at arm’s length.

In today’s reading, Paul addresses issues that, for some, were likely highly emotional.  People had deep and yet differing convictions about them.  To you and me they may seem trivial, but to them they were very important.  They included:

  1. Dietary issues.  Some believers made a wide berth around meat because the market often included meat that had been sacrificed to idols.  They weren’t coming anywhere near that…and some even became virtual vegetarians!  Meanwhile, others understood that idols were meaningless.  There was no deity behind those wooden or stone objects…and they knew it, so they had no problem eating meat.
  2. Important days.  Some place special emphasis on certain days of the week or of the year.  Perhaps they believed that Sunday was the right day to worship or that special recognition should be given to some of the Old Testament days and feasts.  Others saw themselves as having freedom in Christ.

Paul’s counsel to the first-century church was that of acceptance.  Rather than drawing lines, calling names, and just continue to reflect the freedom or restrictions they felt, he encouraged acceptance and sensitivity.  Are there family members, among whom you need to reflect that?

Of course, this is not easy.  Not every issue is one that is on the fringe of faith in Christ like days and diets.  Some strike at the very core.  Knowing how to respond to others then requires great wisdom.

Even so, accepting the other person as one created in the image of God can be a great place to start.