July 31, 2018
AIMING FOR HARMONY IN THE CHURCH
Literally, Paul said that believers are to “pursue peace” and “edify” one another. Yet, the NLT’s use of the word “harmony” here is appropriate, because it captures Paul’s desire to preserve unity in the church, while allowing for diversity of individual conscience. The point of harmony in music is that different parts, such as soprano, alto, tenor and bass, may be sung, yet they sound unified and beautiful together. Similarly, even though Christians from a Jewish background may follow a kosher diet, they shouldn’t expect believers from a Gentile background to do the same. They both should seek to sing praises to Jesus Christ, even though they may do so in a unique voice.
Paul wanted to make it clear that Gentiles didn’t have to become Jewish in order to become Christians. They didn’t have to celebrate the same holidays, nor eat the same foods. These were cultural distinctives and matters of the conscience, not necessities of the faith. Paul warned believers not to major in the minors, as it were. Don’t focus on disputable matters which divide, instead focus on that which will build one another up in Christ.
Romans 14 is a profound instruction for those that would obey the Great Commission to make disciples of “all nations.” For we are not called to make Americans, or Southerners, but disciples of Jesus Christ. Our pursuit is unity around the gospel of Jesus and building one another up to maturity in Him.