I have always loved hearing the sound that comes from a barbershop quartet. If you are unfamiliar with a barbershop quartet, it is basically a group of 4 unique singers (a lead, a bass, a tenor, and a baritone) that harmonize together to sing a song a capella. What is so amazing about the sound is that although each singer has a unique voice, they come together to deliver such a warm and unified sound which we know as harmony.
Harmony is the composition of individual sounds that comes together in a consistent, orderly, and pleasingly unified way. Harmony doesn’t require everyone to have the same voice or play the same instrument but comes from everyone contributing to the same tone.
Harmony in our world should be considered in the same light. We won’t all have the same voice, nor will we use the same God-given instruments, but if we can have the same tone, which is love, we can achieve harmony. The Apostle Paul in the fourteenth chapter of his letter to the Romans makes an appeal to harmony. In the Roman church there was a disagreement concerning regulations of the Mosaic law regarding dietary regulations and the Sabbath. Paul insisted that you don’t have to agree over this matter to love one another. For our mutual affection for one another does not come from our agreement on how to live but instead but who we live for, we live for Christ.
Paul goes on to say that on matters that you disagree or find your neighbor in the wrong it is not your responsibility to cast judgement on them. Judgment comes from the one whom gives us all life. Instead we should be walking in love making sure our own actions do not contribute to our neighbor stumbling. If you consider yourself strong in faith, then it is your responsibility to live your life in such a manner that builds up your neighbor not tears them down.
In God’s grip,
Pastor Chuck Church
Read Romans 14:1-15:7
- Why do you think what people were eating and doing on the Sabbath mattered so much to cause tension in the Roman church?
- Why was Paul so concerned to share this message with the Roman church?
- In Romans 14:5, what does Paul mean when he says, “each one should be fully convinced in their own mind? Wouldn’t that cause more strife? Why not tell them that they should just all agree?
- What do you believe Paul means by “if we live, we live to the Lord”?
- What is the “stumbling block” Paul refers to in 14:13-15:3?
- Let’s consider two similar texts from Paul, Romans 14:1-15:7 and 1 Corinthians 8-10. There are similarities in the Corinthian and Roman texts. In both texts Paul warns against taking individual freedoms that become hazardous for others and he encourages the audiences to take actions to build on another up. The difference in the two texts is that Paul takes a stand against eating for offered to idols (1 Corinthians) but doesn’t about food that is considered unclean by Mosaic law (Romans). Why do you believe Paul took a stance against eating food offered to idols and not food considered unclean?
- Do you find that these two texts conflict one another? Why or why not?
- Is there a unifying message that can be concluded from the two texts and if so what is it?
- What issues do you currently find yourself in disagreement with your neighbors? People in your church? Friends on Facebook (or other spaces)?
- How can Paul’s words to the Romans influence your future interactions with these people? What can you expect of those interactions?
- What does it mean for you to “live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Jesus Christ, that together you may with one voice glorify God”?