Romans 15:7 ESV Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.
In this section the Apostle Paul encourages the church to live at peace with all men. If we believe that God has made peace with us through Jesus Christ, we ought to be at peace with one another. If God is sovereign over governments, we ought to pay our taxes. If we will ultimately stand and give an account for ourselves before God, we ought not judge our brothers and sisters in Christ. If a weaker brother takes issue on the grounds of conscience to something we do, we ought to serve our brother rather than violate their conscience, since Christ has born our weaknesses it is not too big a task for us to bear with one another. The list goes on.
Romans 15:7 really jumped out at me this morning. In a few hours, I’ll be preaching from 1 Thessalonians 1:1-4 and sharing a minor point on how God greets His church with Grace and Peace. If we have been welcomed to the body of Christ not on our merits but based on the grace of God, who are we that we would withhold that same sort of welcome for our brothers and sisters in Christ. Welcoming our brothers and sisters in Christ, the way Christ has welcomed us is a practical application of loving our neighbor as ourselves!
I’ll confess as we’ve explored earlier in Romans, sinful habits die hard. It can be difficult to demonstrate grace to those we think of as “undeserving.” But then again it wouldn’t be grace if people deserved it. We are reminded from our reading earlier in Romans, “while we were still sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). If He has done so much for us and welcomes all who come to Him on the same terms, who are we to hold to a different sort of welcome?
[Note: This doesn’t mean that we are to endorse or tolerate sin in the church. It does mean that when we address sin in the church that we go having examined our own lives first (Matthew 7:1-7), approach in such a way as to restore those who have fallen back into sin (Matthew 18), and are to be gentle in our approach (Galatians 6:1)]
[Note: It should be noted that in the foreground of all that Paul is talking about in Romans is the relationships in the church between Jewish and Gentile believers. The issue at stake was that there would be two sects rather than one church. It was important that Jewish and Gentile believers welcome one another and work together to glorify God in unity.]
Father, thank you that you have saved us by grace and welcomed us into the body of Christ not based on a resume of good works, but on the work of Christ alone. Thank you for the tremendous love poured out on us. Help us to love our brothers and sisters in Christ the way you love us. Give us wisdom, direction, and move us by your Spirit in practical ways to live out your gospel. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.