Summary: We’re all so different. We come from different backgrounds, different convictions. But when we all love each other and open arms to all kinds of people, that’s when the beauty of unity is seen. And God wants that here.
Open your Bibles to Romans 15. I am preaching through the book of Romans verse after verse. We are actually coming down to the last two chapters. Paul is trying to get very practical as he speaks to the church there in Rome. And you’ve got to remember, there are all different kinds of people there in the church at Rome: Gentiles, Jews, some who believed you could eat meat, some who believed you couldn’t, some that observed the Sabbath, and some that didn’t. What a beautiful picture of unity it is.
I've always been fascinated by marching bands. I played football. When you’re diagramming a football play, you’re an “X” or an “O,” and there’s only a certain place you have to go and you remember one play at a time. But I’ve just been fascinated by high school bands or college bands that could take a whole halftime and choreograph a show like that.
I was at Rose Stadium with my wife several weeks ago at a Robert E. Lee football game, and the Robert E. Lee band did a great, but the opposing team’s band, they weren’t all in step with each other. In fact, there was one particular band member who didn't know his place. He was always two or three steps behind everybody else in the band. Even the guy behind him kept kind of pushing him, “Hurry up and get back in line.” There was one particular time when the entire band turned to the right, but this guy turned to the left and bam! He ran into the guy next to him. I kept telling Cindy, I said, “Cindy look at that guy. He doesn’t know what he’s doing. He’s just making a mess out of it.” And my wife turned to me and said one of the most profound type of statements wives sometimes say to husbands. She looked at me like, “Hey, get over it.” But she said, “You know what you’re doing? You're focusing in on that one guy who’s out of step, and you’re missing out on everybody else’s in step.” And she was exactly right.
And then just yesterday, John and Thelma Ruth Childs took us down to College Station where we went to see the A&M game. And at halftime, when the Aggie band got out there on the field, it was simply amazing to me. They went in all different parts of that football field, but they would come back together and then go apart and come back together. Everybody was in perfect synchronized step. And when I watched that band, I did not look at one individual. Do you know why? There was not an individual out of step. What I saw was the entire unit. And as I thought about that, I said, that’s a great truth about church unity.
This is all about unity. Sometimes, if you have one or two members of a church that are out of step with the rest of the church, guess who gets all the attention? Guess who everybody looks at? One or two that may be out of step. But when the church is the body of Christ, everybody’s playing their own instrument. Everybody knows what their spiritual gift is and they’re using it. And we’re all serving Jesus together. People don’t look at individuals; they see the body of Christ, the beauty of unity. And this is what this passage is all about.
I want us to look here beginning in verse five of Romans 15 as we talk about a church with an open door. I want us to pick up with verse five and get a running start into the text for today. “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you,” and here’s what we’ve been talking about, “a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and one mouth, you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” And then here’s the text for today: “Accept one another then just as Christ accepted you.”
Now this is a very simple message today. First thing I’m going to talk about is acceptance. So please underline that word. “Just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God's truth to confirm the promises made to the patriarchs, [that means the Jewish fathers] so that the Gentiles may glorify God for his mercy. As it is written.” Now let me explain the next text to you. The point that Paul is making here is just as Jesus has accepted us; we ought to accept one another. And he’s going to use Old Testament scripture, four of them, to prove that Jesus Christ not only just accepted Jews, but he accepted Gentiles. And this is in the Old Testament.