ODJ: a bad rep

July 9, 2014 

READ: Romans 12:9-21 

Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honouring each other (v.10).

For centuries the church has sometimes had the unfortunate reputation of bitter wrangling and vicious disagreement. There have been opposing denominations and those within the same denomination claiming to know the true interpretation of Scripture and its application to daily life. These days many Christian leaders are calling for less division and greater humility as we practise our faith together.
Paul’s letter to the believers in Rome was written at a time of growing dissension between Gentile and Jewish Christians. So it sets out the foundational principles of the Christian faith, with an encouragement to all believers to overlook petty disagreements and embrace one another in love (Romans 12:9-10, 13:8).

As Christians, we’re reminded that our traditions and practices don’t make us any better or worse than others. Rather, we all wrestle with sin and desperately need God’s grace (Romans 3:9, 6:20-23).

Simply striving to obey laws or do good works can’t restore the broken fellowship with our Creator (3:27-28). We’re “made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ” (v.22); and when we do that, we naturally fulfil the law (v.31). Then, as we live in the power of the Holy Spirit, we can more obediently follow God and His Word—including the instruction to do good to others.

In Galatians 6:9-13 Paul encourages us to do good to everyone—especially to those who are part of the household of faith. He also urges us to genuinely love and honour one another as we have the opportunity. Finally, we’re called to help when God’s people are in need and to live in harmony and at peace with our brothers and sisters in Jesus (Romans 12:9-18). In this way we can overcome the bad rep and show that we are Christians by our love. —Ruth O’Reilly-Smith

365-day plan› Mark 4:1-29

Read John 13:35 and consider what it says happens when believers in Jesus love one another. Read Ephesians 4:32 to see what will help us to have healthy relationships in the church. 
Who has been excluded from your life because you’re holding tightly to a church tradition or disputable view? What will you do this week to show God’s love to all believers?