Summary: what it means to live at peace with one another – interpersonal peace. Living in the Kingdom of God now means living side by side with other people, and God’s Word has a lot to say about how we must live with one another.
A Kingdom Of Peace: Rom 14:1-19
Advent #2 Dec 10, 2006
Ten Commandments for Christmas:
I. You shall not leave "Christ" out of Christmas.
II. You shall not value your gifts by the cost, for many shall signify love that is more blessed and beautiful than sliver and gold.
III. You shall give yourself with your gifts: your love, your personality, and your service shall increase the value of your gifts a hundred fold and they who receive them shall treasure them forever.
IV. You shall not let Santa Claus take the place of Christ, lest Christmas become a fairy tale, rather than a sublime reality in the spiritual realm.
V. You shall not burden your servants, the sales girl, the mail carrier and the merchant.
VI. You shall not neglect the church. Its Christmas services are planned to help spiritualize the Christmas season for you, your family, and your friends.
VII. You shall not neglect the needy. Let your bountiful blessings be shared with the many who will go hungry and cold unless you are generous at Christmas.
VIII. You shall be as a little child. Christmas is the day of the Christ child; not until you have become, in spirit, as a little child are you ready to enter into the Kingdom of heaven.
IX. You shall prepare your soul for Christmas. Most of us spend much time and money getting gifts ready, but few seconds in preparing our souls.
X. You shall give your heart to Christ. Let your Christmas list have "Christ in my heart" at the top as your gift to Him this Christmas.
In preparing to celebrate the arrival of God in human flesh, this second week of advent focuses us on the theme of peace. There are many different directions we could go in talking about peace: we could talk about world peace, and God’s desire for wars to end and for those conflicts to be replaced by justice and peace. We could talk about each of us having peace with God, as our sins are forgiven and we are adopted into God’s family. We could talk about inner peace – that sense of calm and assurance in each of us that comes as we let go of hurts and expectations.
But since we are in a series centered around the theme of the Kingdom of God, I want instead to look at what it means to live at peace with one another – interpersonal peace. You see, living in the Kingdom of God now means living side by side with other people, and God’s Word has a lot to say about how we must live with one another.
There was a big fight going on in a particular church. Christians were divided against one another – feelings were hurt, harmful things were said, groups formed and spent time attacking one another on the places they disagreed. Each firmly believed that they were right, that God was on their side, because after all, their opinions were backed up by Scripture, and those other people just didn’t get it. The others obviously were not as spiritual as they were: they were narrow and enslaved; or else they were undisciplined and abused freedom. And as the conflict persisted, the groups got more and more entrenched, and further and further from the point of the Kingdom of God: that love for God and love for one another is more important than any other consideration.
What was the issue? It could have been the color of the carpet. It could have been how to raise kids. It could have been how to allocate the church budget. It could have been whether to focus on the needs of people outside the church or of people inside the church. It could have been what type of music to have in the service. But in this particular church, it was none of those. The issues were these: what kind of food was ok to eat, and what day should be set aside to worship. The church was the New Testament church in Rome, and the Apostle Paul wrote to them to set them straight. I can sum up his response with this verse: “the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Let’s read Romans 14:1-19.
Rom 14:1-19 (NLT)
1 Accept other believers who are weak in faith, and don’t argue with them about what they think is right or wrong. 2 For instance, one person believes it’s all right to eat anything. But another believer with a sensitive conscience will eat only vegetables. 3 Those who feel free to eat anything must not look down on those who don’t. And those who don’t eat certain foods must not condemn those who do, for God has accepted them. 4 Who are you to condemn someone else’s servants? They are responsible to the Lord, so let him judge whether they are right or wrong. And with the Lord’s help, they will do what is right and will receive his approval.