I told you last week it was going to start getting a little stickier. In our Friday talks on peace we have talked about peace with God and are now on peace with others. The last couple of weeks were on dealing with other believers who are blatantly doing wrong. Here comes the hard part, the side of judging that has more to do with self preference than sin.
Right at the start let me state that there are certain things that are undeniable absolutes in Scripture. Those are not what we are discussing. Fundamentals of faith are not open to what we feel like doing or what the world around us is calling acceptable. That said, let's carry on.
There are certain things that for one of us God says "no" to while He allows it for someone else. The person God says no to doesn't need to go correct the person who is free in Christ to carry on. And the person who is free doesn't need to worry about the person who can't seem to let things go. That is what Romans 14:16 is trying to tell us.
Here's the part where it gets prickly. Just because there's a way we prefer doesn't mean that's how it has to be done. This is where we have to make peace, because peace certainly doesn't come naturally when it comes to going against our preferences.
But we must be so careful to do this. The friction created by rubbing against "my way" syndrome has set many a fire of divisiveness to blazing in our churches, leaving many spiritually and emotionally burned to the ground.
What sort of things am I talking about? Someone might go to the movies while another thinks it's wrong. Someone might feel the need to give up eating meat while others enjoy a steak. A friend once felt convicted not to have a Christmas tree. Did I call her Ebenezer Scrooge? Did I take down my tree just because she did? Of course not!
I'll give you an example from my own life. I am a big picture girl. If there's a project to do, I see it in my mind complete and finished. I simply work from that mental picture to make it become a reality.
Nothing raises my hackles more than someone nitpicking over details. To go over and over what could be done for each and every point makes me feel absolutely claustrophobic. It honestly makes me want to run screaming from the room.
I am decisive.
I am able to see all those details in my mind at one time.
I am also not perfect.
I am also not always right.
My own way is not the only way and not always the right way.
God in His infinite wisdom requires that this world be a mixture of many different kinds of people and requires us to work together to accomplish His tasks.
I don't get to run screaming from the room no matter how much I might want. Sometimes those questions regarding details are necessary.
If I go my own way all the time, pretty soon I'm going it alone.
It isn't possible to build each other up when we're building by ourselves.
Remember what Jesus said in His sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:9, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for that shall be called the sons of God." Isn't that what we're after? We want God's blessing. We want to be recognizable as His child.
We get those things by being peacemakers. We have to make peace. We have to go after it.
It reminds me of the scene at the end of the first Lord of the Rings movie, Fellowship of the Ring. It's the scene where the orcs are running through the woods on their way to find those in the fellowship. We must throw down our preferences, put on our war paint, and hunt down fellowship.
Now orcs aren't the prettiest things to be compared to, and in the movie are on the bad side, but we do want to emulate their tenacity. Why do we have to be so aggressive about peace? Because we have an enemy out there that is ripping and tearing away at the body of Christ!
And he's doing it one carpet sample, song style, and clothing choice at a time.
What he cannot accomplish from the outside, he happily lets us do to each other from within. We have to slash through self. If we lack peace as a body, we are a laughing stock to the world.
Next week, how to be peaceful instead of preferential.