Summary: What I do affects you!
Dealing With Diversity
Rev. Brian Bill
I had a really rough week, especially at the beginning. Untold numbers of people were very mean to me. Whether it was on the phone, via email, through Facebook, or in person, I felt attacked on every side. The persecution was relentless and I’m sure I did nothing to deserve it. I knew that some of you wouldn’t believe me so I saved some of the evidence. Here’s what people said to me on Tuesday…
* “Cheese Soup today.”
* “It’s not too late to become a Bears fan. I also think they had some divine intervention...” (I can’t believe this one because everyone knows the Packers are God’s team).
* “Hey! [There is] a vitamin supplement called B-complex. It’s for stress and to calm nerves. I figured after last night’s game you’re getting a lot of harassment (she’s right about that) and might be stressed out (no, just waiting for January 2nd).”
* On Facebook I posted this as my status: “My short-term memory is not as sharp as it used to be. Also, my short-term memory’s not as sharp as it used to be.” People had the nerve to make comments like these: “Is that so you can forget the scores of certain football games?” Someone else said, “Well, let me help you out…the Bears beat the Packers last night!”
* Here’s one more (that’s all I can take). “We don’t want to add any ‘salt’ into the wounds…after all, last night you had way too much ‘Peppers.’”
This behavior was not limited to the weekdays. Someone had the nerve to desecrate my office last Sunday morning by putting a Bears jacket on my chair between services. When I saw it, I put some gloves on, took the jacket off the chair and threw it in the wastebasket. I had to use hand sanitizer when I was done. On Friday night at the Indians game we sat behind Todd and Alona Farney and I found out that it was Todd who did this dastardly deed. I told him that I should have taken his jacket to the dumpster!
What’s the deal with all this dissin’, anyway? I don’t ask for any of this. I thought we were supposed to overcome our judgmental attitudes and disagree without being disagreeable. Oh well, I guess I’m going to have to do a bit more “Packer preaching” until you see the light. This just shows that we are a very conflicted community. Our topic today is, “Dealing With Diversity” from Romans 14:13-18. Please turn there in your Bibles.
Let’s look at the first word in Romans 14:13: The word “therefore” ties this next section into what we just learned in the first 12 verses. Someone last week told me to stop with the sermons because there was too much to apply. Well, I don’t think I can stop but I do agree that this material has been a bit overwhelming and certainly very convicting.
Two weeks ago we focused on two ways that we can disagree without being disagreeable:
* Lose the arrogant attitude
* Live for the Lord alone
Last week we were in Romans 14:9-12 and we learned how to overcome a judgmental spirit:
* Focus on the fundamentals of our faith
* Analyze our attitudes
* Consider our coming judgment
How did you do on the homework assignment?
1. Live life as if each day is your last day.
2. Confess your sins and repent from the way you’ve been living.
3. Send your money on ahead.
4. Give grace instead of words of woe to others.
5. Witness like crazy because life is short, judgment is real, hell is hot and eternity is forever.
6. Put yourself in the shoes of others. Someone passed on some wisdom related to this: “Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you criticize them, you are a mile away from them and you have their shoes.”
By the way, the sermon last week was a good example of the importance of verse-by-verse expository preaching. Since we’re roamin’ through every word in the Book of Romans, we are forced to deal with topics that we might otherwise avoid, like the judgment seat of Christ.
If we ended with verse 12 it would be easy to get the impression that we must just stop judging and leave those who are different alone. But in this next section we’ll see that we must be involved and engaged with one another. As I studied the passage, here’s what came through for me: What I do affects you! Turn to the person next to you and repeat this refrain: What I do affects you!
This is difficult because we know that we have liberty through Christ and don’t have to jump through a bunch of legalistic hoops. Nor do we have to follow someone else’s rules or regulations. We live in the land of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That means that we can live as we please, right? No, not exactly. Here are two guiding principles from 1 Corinthians. One has to do with you and the other with others.