Dear Siblings in Christ,
This shall be the final letter I, Paul, write to you all.
I blush, just thinking of how to sum it all up.
I guess, if I had to sum it all up, it would be with the single word—reconciliation.
In Rome, the divisions between Jewish Christian and Gentile Christian came out most fully at mealtime.
The Traditionalist Jewish Christians—I will call them the Weak—refused to eat Meat, because it had been sacrificed to Idols.
The Liberated Gentile Christians—I will call them the Strong—went ahead and ate this meat, assured that if there is only one God, then the Idols are nothing.
These divisions may sound silly to you today—but I assure you these were issues that could make or break the Christian community in Rome—or anywhere else. Issues of Traditionalism and Liberty at tension in community—that’s nothing new, nor I would add, something old.
The revelation that Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ, the Anointed of God
-turns everything upside down,
-it shakes the whole world and reshapes the universe.
Every division is fractured, every signal of separation is split!
…But then what?
How do we all live together after this earthquake-level shift?
This spiritual flood that transforms the landscape of life, forever?
You Traditionalist, you Weak Ones!
Everything you held dear, every way of measuring things—just doesn’t work any more. You lack the vision to value this new world in which you live!
Your ongoing judgment is an attempt to take away God’s job—is it not written, “Judgment is mine says the LORD”?
You need to go back to the font of faith—recommit to trusting God… that even in the strange new world we find ourselves, God continues to act
yes—even here—God is faithful…trust God, even when it feels like up is down and left is right.
Even in the chaos of the world as it now is, trust that God has not abandoned you—in fact, God goes ahead of you, crossing every boundary you’ve decided is the mark in the sand; decided it is the place you will not cross.
If Christ can cross the boundary of death—I assure you he can cross any barrier you try to put up to uphold your understanding of morality and mortality.
Those things that your fellow Christians are doing that seem out of bounds—look at them carefully, try, really try, to see how they are honoring and giving thanks to God in a new way.
Accept that they are honoring God differently, and how they are living is a matter between them and God.
Now… you better wipe that smile off your face, you so called Liberated Ones—you “Strong” Ones!
Sure, you’ve figured out how to ride the chaos of this time period, of all these changes.
In fact, you got it right! You are living faithfully in this new world—you’ve read the Spirit’s calling more faithfully than the Traditionalists, you trust God in the midst of all these things…
You’ve got it right… so don’t make fools of yourself!
Don’t despise the Traditionalists!
Don’t live in this new way in such a way that their consciences can’t handle it.
Make sure you do things with a good intention, and don’t leave room for people to mimic you in a way that makes a mockery out of your new and faithful way of being Christian.
You need to know, when I discovered Christian Liberty it was the best thing I’d ever known, if you make it Libertine you debase the most excellent of things!
Do you hear me? Being right in such a way that you ruin someone else’s ability to trust God is always wrong!
If your liberation means you no longer love your fellow Christian—then it isn’t really liberation!
To you both, both weak and strong alike—I say by way of prayer: “May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another as Christ Jesus would wish it, so with one voice you might Glorify God!”
Glorify God; be an offering to God!
Be an offering to God, by the way you share with one another and with those in need.
Be an offering to God, by living your whole life as little Christs.
Be an offering to God, by being reconciled to one another, and in so doing break open the whole world, that it might be knit together again—that the discordant chords sung about the earth might hear your sweet song and become the mightiest melody to ever exist!
I sing out to God on your behalf, “bring them pardon and peace. Reconcile them all, O’ Lord.”
The Church, the Body of Christ
-when its divisions end…
-when Christians come together in love…
-when you say “The Peace of Christ be with you. And also with you.” And mean it…
That reminds the world of what God has done in Jesus… that is, the ultimate victory of Christ over the power of Sin, Death, and the Devil—its there, in your midst!
It is what makes Jesus known as Christ!
Reconciliation within Christian community, reveals that Jesus is the Anointed One!
Cling always to Christ Jesus revealed to us by God the All-wise, to whom be the glory forever, through that same Jesus Christ. Amen.