Well, I made it a few more verses in Romans before I was stopped in my tracks.
Romans 1:8 ESV
It’s most probable that the church at Rome was founded by Jews sometime before the A.D. 40’s after Pentecost. Paul wrote the letter to the Romans in A.D. 57. By this point in history, the Jews had already been kicked out of Rome and were slowly being allowed back in. Part of what Paul is addressing in the letter is the tension between the Gentile Christians who had to fill leadership roles and continue the work of the church after the Jews were forced out, and the Jewish Christians who were able to move back to Rome and felt the difference between the church they left and the church as it existed when they returned.
There was certainly tension and disagreement over the gospel and to what extent the law played a role in the church, particularly with Jewish Christians re-entering the church. Yet, it was their faith that was proclaimed world-wide. It wasn’t gossip about dissension among members of the church that filled the mouths of outsiders. It wasn’t the division between Jews and Gentiles that made the headlines.
Think about that for a minute.
Could the rest of the world say that about the church as a whole in America? Could outsiders look at America and say that regardless of tensions that may exist or disagreements over doctrine that the Christians in America pursue and hold high faith in Christ above all? Sadly, no.
We’re too busy posting our blogs and snapping out Tweets about how “the other” is naive or legalistic or fundamentalist or liberal. We’re too focused on standing up for the “marginalized” because we want to be like Jesus that we throw out what Jesus and the rest of the Bible say about marriage and sexual identity. We’ve become so focused on pointing out that liberals don’t take the Bible seriously that we don’t show mercy and grace.
Is there a time for discussion, correction, and rebuke with Scripture as our foundation of truth and the Holy Spirit as our guide? Absolutely! But we must take our queue from the councils of old and have those discussions in-house, with everyone at the table to bring their side of the argument.
We air our problems for the world to see at the expense of the gospel going forward, oftentimes without even really knowing the people we argue against. We know their platform, not the wounds and experiences that shape it. How can we possibly shepherd or help a platform without knowing the person or people behind it?
Let’s bring it a little closer to home.
Could the world around us look at us as individuals as proclaim our personal faith in Christ to others? Could Christians and non-Christians alike look at our lives and say that we conduct them in a way that exalts Christ, holds Christ as most beautiful, and pursues and stands for faith in Christ above all?
Or are we simply yet another example of a person claiming the name of Christ, all the while missing the forest for the trees?