1 We who are powerful need to be patient with the weakness of those who don’t have power, and not please ourselves. 2 Each of us should please our neighbors for their good in order to build them up. 3 Christ didn’t please himself, but, as it is written, The insults of those who insulted you fell on me. 4 Whatever was written in the past was written for our instruction so that we could have hope through endurance and through the encouragement of the scriptures. 5 May the God of endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude toward each other, similar to Christ Jesus’ attitude. 6 That way you can glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ together with one voice.
7 So welcome each other, in the same way that Christ also welcomed you, for God’s glory.
Our passage today is about hospitality: specifically, about how to treat each other in the face of differences of opinion. Often, today, it feels like a lost art. We’ve lost sight of what it means to disagree respectfully and with love for one another. In Paul’s time, the disagreements were about the kinds of foods Christians could eat. Today our differences seem perhaps deeper and more complex. We debate whom we can welcome in the church and what the church should stand for. Things seem harder now. We feel justified in casting each other out and cutting off relationships.
But Paul points out that our ability to welcome and love one another, even in the face of disagreement, helps us see and experience the glory of God. How could this be?
If God had wanted uniformity in humanity, God could have made us much according to a production line: without the vast variety of hues, languages, thoughts, opinions and life experiences that characterize the human race.
Instead God instead chose to approach things differently, as an artist rather than a manufacturer. God created each of us uniquely, so that in order to experience the fullness of God’s glory, we’d have to get comfortable being around those who don’t look, speak, or think like us. It’s the only way we can truly appreciate the vastness of God’s creative power. We lose sight of that when we choose to cut off and end relationships because we don’t act or understand things in all the same way.
So instead of uniformity, God invites us to do the hard work of creating unity. We experience God’s glory through our differences, not in spite of them.
by Joe Monahan
For Pondering & Prayer
Today, remember that it’s impossible even for any two people to agree on anything. Unless we REALLY enjoy solitude, we have no choice but to try and get along despite our disagreements!
Prayer: God, you created each of us unique. Our diversity surprises and confounds us. Help us today to see your glory in, not despite, our differences! Amen.