Living Together in Love
Read Romans 14 in your Bible and then compare that to what is given below from Living Through Loving by Leslie F. Brandt
No matter how strong our convictions, or how ecstatic our feelings in respect to our faith, God forbid that we attempt to compress God into set forms of shapes that we expect others to swallow and digest. God is too big for our little boxes or our personal concoctions. Whereas God is most certainly revealed through Christ, God is not confined to the regulations and revelations that we wrap around God. What may be good for us in respect to the means and methods of sustaining and demonstrating our faith is not necessarily appropriate for others.
We simply are not capable of passing judgment on the experience of another person. Their salvation must come through Jesus Christ. The manner by which it comes, or the manner in which a person expresses his/her faith, is between him/her and God. Nor would we allow our relationship to God to be determined or threatened by another person’s prerequisites. Our love for one another ought to be generous enough to embrace the other regardless of the manner in which we assume to comprehend or endeavor to worship God. On the other hand, while we must cease to pass judgment upon the actions of others, we have no license to flaunt our freedom in ways that may threaten their faith or cause them to flounder.
While others cannot dictate what I can or cannot do as a Christian, Christian love will not permit me to unnecessarily hurt or offend them. My freedom in Christ gives me the freedom to respect another person’s convictions even if they don’t make sense to me. Few of us will agree on all interpretations of God and God’s will for our lives. We can and must agree on the prime requirement of every Christian, that we learn how to love and care for one another.
Who dares to throw the stone to damn another’s sin,
when you, while knowing all our past, forgive again?
No more we play the judge, for by your grace we live.
As you, O God, forgive our sin, may we forgive.
~ Ruth Duck
Paul gently reminds the Christians in Rome: 9) Each Christian is a member of God’s household. If God has accepted this person, who is in a position to condemn? 2) Christian practices are all aimed at building up the body and serving God in Christ. What is done to honor God appropriately should not be condemned by others in the community. 3) Each of us will have our day of judgment, and on that day it will be God, not our brothers and sisters in Christ, who will sit in the judgment seat.
~ Craig Kocher
Your love, O God, is broad like beach and meadow,
wide as the wind, and our eternal home.
You leave us free to seek you or reject you,
you give us room to answer “yes” or “no.”
O judge us, Lord, and in your judgment free us,
and set our feet in Freedom’s open space;
take us as far as your compassion wanders
among the children of the human race.
~ Anders Frostenson trans. by Fred Kaan
These reflections are for the week of September 13-19 and are based on the scriptures for worship on September 13.
Joyce D. Sohl, Laywoman-in-Residence
Joyce D. Sohl has been Laywoman-in-Residence since 2009 as a full-time volunteer. She retired as CEO of United Methodist Women in 2004. She is the author of 4 books, a teacher, retreat leader, writer and non-professional musician. Here at the Center her work is in the area of Spirituality & the Arts with such programs as Tuesdays in the Chapel, Vespers & All That Jazz, Poet’s Corner, quarterly retreats, and art exhibits.