Summary: 1. Focus on being a People of Agape Love 2. Focus on being a People Living in Light of God's Ultimate Judgment. A message on how to confront tough issues and possible disagreements in the Body of Christ.

Scripture: Romans 14:1-12; Matthew 18:21-35 and Call to Worship (Psalm 114)

Title: Grease the Wheels!

1. Focus on being a People of Agape Love

2. Focus on being a People Living in Light of God's Ultimate Judgment.

A message on how to confront tough issues and possible disagreements in the Body of Christ.


Grace and peace from God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit!

Every now and then while you are traveling or just shopping you come across a book or two that are full of pithy little sayings from the past that very quickly plainly speak the truth. I came across some of those little sayings a few days ago. Here are some of them:

+ To be successful - Give people more than they expect and do it cheerfully.

+Don't dig for water under an outhouse.

+A lady is a woman who makes it easy for a man to be a gentleman.

+Don't go in if you don't know the way out.

+A sharp axe is 100 times better than a set of big muscles.

+Sometimes you have to grease the wheels twice.

That last one has fallen a little out of use these days. I remember as a boy helping my dad pack the wheels on our car which back then had drum brakes rather than disc brakes. We would pry the grease cap off the end of the hub, remove the cotter pin and slide out the nut and lock combination off the spindle. Then we would take out the bearings and any other parts and make sure everything was okay. Then we would clean everything up and as we put it all back together we would pack grease around everything as we put it back together.

As a young boy I loved being able to play with all of that grease. It was a wonderful way to get all dirty and messy and of course, help out at the same time. So, when it came to putting grease on everything and putting as much grease as possible I would volunteer. Afterwards, dad had this white cleaning stuff called "GOOP" that you could use to clean off your hands and it smelled really good as well.

The key was to put enough grease on and around everything. Without that grease to lubricate everything the wheels would eventually lock up and you would be stuck. A little bit of grease therefore went a long way and a little bit of grease could save you a lot of time and money.

It appears from our Roman's passage this morning that that Apostle Paul knew a great deal about grease. Perhaps not the type of grease that my dad used to pack those wheels but the spiritual grease of "agape" love. One could say that it was the spiritual grease of "agape" love that enabled a community of believers to find common ground in the LORD JESUS CHRIST.

Like most communities or social groups that get together for any length of time there comes a time when some disagreements or arguments can arise. This was what was happening among the different groups of early Christians in and around the area of Rome. They were experiencing some growing pains. They were having some difficulties understanding one another and getting everyone on the same page.

It shouldn't really surprise us that this would happen because the same thing happens today. When you get people together from various religious, social, cultural, racial, finacial, educational and generational backgrounds it is quite natural for some disagreements or even arguments to arise. Actually, it would have been quite unusual for some dissimilarities not to come to the surface.

In Paul's case here the major disagreement arose over the eating of certain foods and the celebration of certain holy days.

In particular, some of the collected group were not sure whether they should be eating meat that had been previously offered as part of a sacrifice to some pagan god or goddess. Some felt that it would be a sacrilege to eat such meat. They believed that since they had turned from their pagan ways to follow Christ they should also turn away from any meat that had been a part of a pagan ritual or sacrifice. They believed to eat such meat would be a denial of their new life in Christ.

For others it was just meat. And any meat whether it had been a part of a ritual sacrifice could be eaten with a good conscience. Meat was merely meat. And the more one could eat meat the better one would be so please fire up the grill, pass the rice or the potatoes and let's all get ready for a big ole feast.

Others refused to eat any meat that they believed had not be properly handled. That is to say any meat that was not kosher. They believed that eating such meat would be a sacrilege as well. They adamantly believed that the Old Testament had specific rules how meat was to be handled before it was eaten. And since they could not be sure that the meat was kosher they had decided to not eat any meat and had therefore chosen to become vegetarians. They believed that others should therefore follow their example.

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