Skip to main content

Common Ground

Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don’t see things the way you do. And don’t jump all over them every time they do or say something you don’t agree with—even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department. Remember, they have their own history to deal with. Treat them gently. (Romans 14:1)

All history is really the aggregate of past events; all that is preserved or remembered about the past put together in some form of 'remembered events'. We ALL have a history, do we not? For some of us, the "story" is quite involved, colorful, and perhaps even a little seedy at times. For others, the "story" may be a little less complicated, sort of mundane, and without too many deviations from a straight course. Regardless of the picture painted by our past, there are still things from our past which act upon us today, influencing how we interact with life in the present. It is sometimes quite difficult to welcome into our fellowship those with "histories" that vary completely from our own - especially when their history is filled with all kinds of things we don't understand or have ever experienced ourselves. For those who see things as black or white, dealing with anything marginally outside of "white" or "black" is almost unnerving. As you get further from white or black, it is easier to "judge" the individual as "too far out" of the acceptable "range" - in turn, we find we cannot accept them into our fellowship. Here's something I have had to learn in my own life - even I have hard time with remaining true to 'black or white' and those movements off God's straight course for my life probably freak others out a bit. 

Jesus was not the kind of guy to exclude those with a past. In fact, he took in the Roman employed Jewish tax collector. Rome had taken Jerusalem - they were the ruling party - taxing the Jews was part and parcel with a ruling party's agenda. To employ a Roman soldier or citizen to do the task of taxing the citizens of their new territory would not be a big deal, but to employ a Jew - blasphemous! Jesus also took in the ones in the community who had been labeled as having just too many shades of grey for them to "fit" into the normal church-going crowd - such as the prostitutes, lepers, and ceremonially unclean. Everywhere we observe Jesus, we see him dealing with those who caused the "self-righteous" a whole lot of concern - simply because they only saw the "past issues" in the lives of these outcasts of society. Jesus saw way beyond the 'issues', into the heart and spirit of these men and women. In contrast to the self-righteous, he embraced them - not afraid their many issues would rub off on him. In fact, he embraced them openly because he was giving us an example of what it is to extend grace - favor where it is not deserved.

We all come to Christ with our "histories" - no one is without one. As we do, we all have one thing in common - grace. It is upon this foundation of grace we are to invite into fellowship those who have embraced the work of grace in their lives. They will not "perform" as we might expect them to for quite some time - still dealing with the various "issues" and "deviations from black or white" which have been part of their lives for a long time. In time, if they are welcomed with open arms and gentle spirits, grace will have its effect. Instead of judging these individuals, we should be welcoming them - as did Jesus. The telling words in our passage, "Remember, they have their own history to deal with," is really what Jesus was saying all along as he taught, healed, enjoyed a meal with, and just plain hung out with those with "histories". The sad thing we forget is our own history and the fact someone else is having to deal with OUR history, as well. It is easy to see the "issues" in another, all the while forgetting the issues upon issues in ourselves. We would do well to consider the common ground we each have if we are believers - grace! Just sayin!

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

What did obedience cost Mary and Joseph?

As we have looked at the birth of Christ, we have considered the fact he was born of a virgin, with an earthly father so willing to honor God with his life that he married a woman who was already pregnant.  In that day and time, a very taboo thing.  We also saw how the mother of Christ was chosen by God and given the dramatic news that she would carry the Son of God.  Imagine her awe, but also see her tremendous amount of fear as she would have received this announcement, knowing all she knew about the time in which she lived about how a woman out of wedlock showing up pregnant would be treated.  We also explored the lowly birth of Jesus in a stable of sorts, surrounded by animals, visited by shepherds, and then honored by magi from afar.  The announcement of his birth was by angels - start to finish.  Mary heard from an angel (a messenger from God), while Joseph was set at ease by a messenger from God on another occasion - assuring him the thing he was about to do in marrying Mary wa

A brilliant display indeed

Love from the center of who you are ; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply ; practice playing second fiddle. Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. (Romans 12:9-12) Integrity and Intensity don't seem to fit together all that well, but they are uniquely interwoven traits which actually complement each other. "Love from the center of who you are; don't fake it." God asks for us to have some intensity (fervor) in how we love (from the center of who we are), but he also expects us to have integrity in our love as he asks us to be real in our love (don't fake it). They are indeed integral to each other. At first, we may only think of integrity as honesty - some adherence to a moral code within. I believe there is a little more to integrity than meets the eye. In the most literal sense,

The bobby pin in the electrical socket does what???

Avoidance is the act of staying away from something - usually because it brings some kind of negative effect into your life.  For example, if you are a diabetic, you avoid the intake of high quantities of simple sugars because they bring the negative effect of elevating your blood glucose to unhealthy levels.  If you were like me as a kid, listening to mom and dad tell you the electrical outlets were actually dangerous didn't matter all that much until you put the bobby pin into the tiny slots and felt that jolt of electric current course through your body! At that point, you recognized electricity as having a "dangerous" side to it - it produces negative effects when embraced in a wrong manner.  Both of these are good things, when used correctly.  Sugar has a benefit of producing energy within our cells, but an over-abundance of it will have a bad effect.  Electricity lights our path and keeps us warm on cold nights, but not contained as it should be and it can produce