This post is prompted by a discussion on a friend's Facebook post. That friend was horrified to see a post on the Facebook Page of Truro Cathedral, and said as much on their own Facebook wall, and I shared a comment in response.
On Easter Sunday, I preached on Romans 8:18-30.
There wasn't time in that service to set those glorious verses in their full context in the book of Romans.
Romans 1:18-32: We, the human race, have suppressed the knowledge of God that we all have. We all have it because God has made his existence, deity and power known in his creation. The creation is his conscious handwriting intended to communicate to us. We have done so effectively, such that Paul can say we all knew God. The problem is not ignorance, it is culpable suppression of what we know.
God’s temporal judgement for this is to hand us over to self-harming sin. The human-race is constantly attempting to self-destruct; Romans 1 interprets this as God taking off the reins.
“Avoid divisions!”, say the closing three chapters of Romans. And I don’t know one Christian who doesn’t agree with that. We all hate division in church life. It is ugly. It distracts from evangelism. It causes personal pain and grief.
The important thing to notice is that Romans 14-16 offers us two very different ways in which division might arise, and therefore two very different ways of avoiding it.
I remember a conversation two years ago with a Christian brother, discussing how to apply Romans 14-15 today. It's really hard. Because, by definition, all the examples Paul picks are areas of life where we think we're right. So how do you judge whether this is (a) an example where you have an opinion and must follow it, but refusing to judge / look down on others who think differently is paramount, or (b) an example where you really are right, and others therefore need to be rebuked, corrected, cajoled into thinking the same as you.
Or is that a dilemma to be refused?
Well - I enjoyed Jam Cary's application on his blog. It's really helpful. Thanks, Jam.