“Welcome those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of quarreling over opinions . . . Why do you pass judgment on your brother or sister? Or you, why do you despise your brother or sister?” (Romans 14:1,10a from Romans 14:1-12 )
Can you imagine a church where people whose faith is wobbly are welcomed just so that those more established in their faith can harangue the less sure about their faith? You can?! You know of such churches!? Well . . . . I suppose there are some churches where there are some members “throw around their theological weight”, but I would contend that they are not mature Christians.
But this is an interesting insight into the Roman churches, and perhaps, as I think about it, a foundation of one of the aspects of the Roman Catholic church. It has been quite the running news item that the current Pope advocates humility and compassion as opposed to strict doctrine and regulations.
Paul makes list of the divisive issue in the Roman church of his time; there seemed to be two main issues, what one eats and the observance of special days. Paul advocated acceptance and tolerance of each other, a theme that is in other of his letters. To be in right relationship sometimes means acknowledging and accepting that there can be a wide diversity in spiritual practices and that are acceptable to God. Further, that it is not our place to judge – that it is not justice to judge those things. Finally that shalom is not brought about by judgment but by compassion and fellowship.
Not all churches live up to the triune theme of right relationship, justice and shalom, and that is a shame and shameful to the Christian faith for it is in churches and faith groups where such traits are learned and demonstrated. May you gentle reader be a welcoming beacon of nurture and growth for all faith seekers, and may you be so nurtured and welcomed. Selah! And shalom for your day.