From The Well - 9/14/2017

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Romans 14:1-12 (MSG)
1 Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don't see things the way you do. And don't jump all over them every time they do or say something you don't agree with-even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department. Remember, they have their own history to deal with. Treat them gently. 2 For instance, a person who has been around for a while might well be convinced that he can eat anything on the table, while another, with a different background, might assume all Christians should be vegetarians and eat accordingly. 3 But since both are guests at Christ's table, wouldn't it be terribly rude if they fell to criticizing what the other ate or didn't eat? God, after all, invited them both to the table. 4 Do you have any business crossing people off the guest list or interfering with God's welcome? If there are corrections to be made or manners to be learned, God can handle that without your help. 5 Or, say, one person thinks that some days should be set aside as holy and another thinks that each day is pretty much like any other. There are good reasons either way. So, each person is free to follow the convictions of conscience. 6 What's important in all this is that if you keep a holy day, keep it for God's sake; if you eat meat, eat it to the glory of God and thank God for prime rib; if you're a vegetarian, eat vegetables to the glory of God and thank God for broccoli. 7 None of us are permitted to insist on our own way in these matters. 8 It's God we are answerable to-all the way from life to death and everything in between-not each other. 9 That's why Jesus lived and died and then lived again: so that he could be our Master across the entire range of life and death, and free us from the petty tyrannies of each other. 10 So where does that leave you when you criticize a brother? And where does that leave you when you condescend to a sister? I'd say it leaves you looking pretty silly-or worse. Eventually, we're all going to end up kneeling side by side in the place of judgment, facing God. Your critical and condescending ways aren't going to improve your position there one bit. 11 Read it for yourself in Scripture: "As I live and breathe," God says, "every knee will bow before me; Every tongue will tell the honest truth that I and only I am God." 12 So tend to your knitting. You've got your hands full just taking care of your own life before God.

Abbot Poeman said to Abbot Joseph, "Tell me how to become a monk." He said, "If you want to find rest here below, and hereafter, in all circumstances say, who am I? and do not judge anyone." Most people do not have a problem with a God who sits in judgement. The problem is in the perception that Christians and churchgoers think they have a right to judge. Even worse, the judgement, too often, doesn't come coupled with mercy. Judgement without mercy is not salvation, it is condemnation. Standing on the street corners proclaiming eternal damnation for certain groups of people, renting billboards and placing judgmental statements on them doesn't lead to reconciliation and peace, it leads to alienation.

The good news of Jesus Christ is not condemnation but mercy, grace, peace, hope, and love. We need to figure out how we can bring a message of divine justice tempered with mercy and true judgement with forgiveness. Mainline churches, in particular, have allowed angry and misguided Christians folk to have visibility while good meaning people who cherish and believe in God's compassion and forgiveness sit quietly by. It's time for good Christian people to practice a visible faith that promotes wholeness, forgiveness, healing, peace, and a judgement that doesn't come coupled with condemnation.

Think about it.


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Beginning Sunday, September 24 we will begin our next preaching and teaching series on The Divine Dance by Richard Rohr. There is a teaching component written specifically for this series. If you have not yet connected to a Sunday Discipleship Class and would like to participate in this study, please join Chris and Gloria Hughes on Tuesday evenings beginning September 26 at 6:30 in the Discipleship Classroom, A-206 for this Invitation to the Divine Dance. The class will run for eight weeks, the duration of the preaching series. The study guide is free and The Divine Dance book is available in the Food for Thought Resource Center, $10 for hardback and $7 for paperback.