Summary: In Romans 14, Paul begins to address the specific things that are causing conflict in the church in Rome. Paul's main points include accept each other and let God be the judge.
A. In 1904, this large statue of Christ, that you see on the screen, was erected high in the Andes, on the border between Argentina and Chile – called “Christ the Redeemer of the Andes.”
1. The statue symbolizes a pledge between the two countries.
2. As long as the statue stands, there is to be peace between Chile and Argentina.
3. Shortly after the statue was erected, the Chileans began to protest that they had been slighted, because the statue has its back turned to Chile.
4. Just when tempers were at their highest, a Chilean newspaper writer saved the day.
5. In an editorial that not only satisfied the people but made them laugh, the newspaper writer simply wrote, “The statue of Christ faces Argentina because the people of Argentina need more watching over than the people of Chile.”
B. Isn’t it amazing how prone to conflict we human beings are?
1. We can find an excuse or reason for conflict about almost anything!
2. If you or I pick up a daily newspaper, we will read of multiple stories of conflict.
3. In the daily news you will find there is always conflict between nations.
4. In the daily news you will always find conflict in our own nation over all kinds of things; including politics.
C. Sadly, Churches, the so-called “families” of God, whose places should be most-noted for Christ’s peace, are often marked by conflict.
1. We hear reports regularly of denominational disputes and divisions.
2. And who of us here has not observed, or been a part of a fight within a local church?
3. The conflict may have been over something simple and silly, like the color of the carpet.
4. Or the fight may have been over something important and significant, like the removal of someone in leadership, or the boundaries of a practice.
D. Equally tragic, in addition to all the kinds of conflicts I’ve already mentioned, we experience conflict in our families and homes.
1. We know from experience that our personal families are often fraught with hurt feelings, broken relationships and even divorce.
E. So where can we turn to find help in managing and overcoming the many conflicts that face us in our world, our families and in the church?
1. For one thing, we can turn to Scripture, and especially to the book of Romans.
2. “To the book of Romans?” someone might ask, “Isn’t Romans just a theological treatise of the apostle Paul?”
3. If you have been present and paying attention to our sermon series on Romans, then you know that my answer to that question is that the book of Romans is so much more than a theological treatise.
4. You know that I believe the book of Romans is an occasional letter written specifically to the church at Rome to address a specific problem that threatened the Roman congregation.
F. In the first 11 chapters of Romans, Paul laid a foundation of our need for the Gospel because all of us are sinners, Jews and Gentiles, we all have fallen short of God’s glory and deserve God’s wrath.
1. Thankfully, God sent His son as a Savior and that we can access God’s grace through faith and we can receive the righteousness of Christ through faith.
2. As forgiven sinners, redeemed by Christ, we are called to offer ourselves as living sacrifices.
3. In chapters 12 and 13, Paul pointed us toward the basic components of Christian discipleship, which is primarily guided by the law of love.
G. Now, as we turn to chapters 14 and 15, we will see how Paul addressed more directly the cause of the conflict in Rome and how love in action can lead to peace and harmony in the church in Rome.
1. We will learn that the church in Rome was divided into two groups: those who are “weak” and those who are “strong” (in faith).
2. In a minute, I will describe what I mean by those categories of “weak” and “strong.”
3. Although we don’t know all about what was dividing the church at Rome, Paul will be mentioning conflicts over eating meat, observing some kind of holy days, and drinking wine.
4. At the core of the conflict appears to be the question of observance of the Jewish law.
a. The “weak” were those – mainly Jewish Christians – who could not bring themselves to abandon the requirements of the law that they had observed all of their lives.
b. The “strong” were those – mainly Gentile Christians – who felt no need to observe the law.
c. The “strong” likely also included people like Paul, who was a Jewish Christian, but did not believe that he was obligated to follow the Jewish law.