Summary: The Blessing of unity (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request - email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Reading: Romans chapter 15 verses 5-6
“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, 6 so that with one heart and one mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”.
You expect to find a benediction near the close of a letter;
• And the end of this letter would be chapter 16 verse 27.
• But Paul chose to write this benediction elsewhere .
• It is deliberately written at the end of a long section in this letter
• (chapter 14 verse 1 to chapter 15 verse 13). That focuses on unity in the Church
Quote: American author & humorist Mark Twain used to say:
• “He put a dog and a cat in a cage together as an experiment,
• Just to see if they could get along. They did,
• So he put in a bird, pig and goat.
• They, too, got along fine after a few adjustments.
• Then he put in a Baptist, Presbyterian, and Catholic;
• Soon there was not a living thing left”.
• Sadly Bible history and church history bear record to Mark Twain’s observation;
• That so often Christians do not get along with each other!
E.g. Luke chapter 9 verse 45:
• Even the twelve disciples argued among themselves;
• And they even did it while Jesus was right there with them!
E.g. Acts chapter 15 verse 36-41:
• The apostle Paul himself had a strong falling out with Barnabas over John Mark,
• As to whether or not they should take him on the mission field.
• And some of the New Testament churches;
• Broke the heart of the apostle Paul with their disputes and divisions.
Now in his letter to the Romans the apostle Paul dropped this blessing into his teaching:
• Because he wanted his readers (and that includes us!)
• To share in the blessing he was writing about – the blessing of unity.
Note: The problem
• The problem in the Church at Rome that caused the disunity;
• Was that the congregation was made up of two types of people.
• The congregation included both Jewish and Gentile believers;
• This meant a huge clash of cultures and understanding.
• (a). Some who became followers of Jesus from a Jewish background;
• Had a hard time leaving behind their Jewish customs & traditions;
• e.g. they thought that they needed to maintain kosher homes;
• e.g. they thought they need to observe special days & follow the Jewish religious calendar.
• (b). Other followers of Jesus from a Jewish background who were strong in the faith;
• Understood that they no longer needed to obey dietary regulations;
• They no longer needed to keep special days;
• (c). Those converted to Christ from a Gentile background;
• Had never practised the law of Moses, so it meant nothing to them;
• They knew that everything they needed was found in Christ and Christ alone!
Between these groups there developed bad feelings.
• They judged and condemned each other,