“Wrestling With Romans”
Sweet Harmony (Chapter 15 Verses 1-13)
The harmony spoken of here (vv5-6), comes from the teaching of the Scriptures (v4). And again a concern of the Lord Jesus (John 17.17, 21, 23). The error that goes beyond the differences mentioned in these verses divides the body of Christ, it is schism, and is not pleasing to God, neither does it glorify him (v6). The oneness of heart and speech are attained in the same way (v6). No it does not mean we will all voice the same words, issue the same prayers, follow to the nth degree, the same pattern in public worship, use the same Psalter or Hymn book. It does mean that we will all agree in the main things, it means we will all agree and confess the same gospel truth and Christian doctrine, and thereby glorify God in our Christian unity. The components of a Church are few and easy to own, there is the gathering of believers, the Lord himself, the Spirit and the word of God, the Lord is worshipped, and the Spirit obeyed. The word is expounded and performed, through the gifts and power afforded by the Holy Spirit, as the only rule of faith and practice. The Reformed cry for “uniformity in worship” (Directory of Public Worship), would seem to be to some in this modern age insane, an impossibility. It most certainly is in the light of the hyper-independency, the fragmentation of the church as we see it now. Is it a realistic ask in this world, perhaps something to look forward to in the world to come? I only ask. So, with all our differences, we should accept one another (v7), in the same way Jesus accepted us, with all our faults I might add. The full unity and unanimity of believers alone glorifies God, and those who would do harm to the same, injure the purpose and plan of God. There is when all is said and done, diversity in unity.
What was the greatest ever division in humankind? Between black and white? Working class and upper class? No, between Jew and Gentile. For God’s glory Jesus accepted both, there were great differences between them, overwhelming, never would the two meet. But where did they eventually meet? I’ll tell you, a place called Golgotha, beneath a Roman cross! God took that division and nailed it to his Son’s cross (Ephesians 2.11-16). Jesus took that division in his body on Golgotha, on behalf of God’s truth, in order to fulfil the promises and the plan of God, that the harmonious praises of God be sung throughout the Community of God’s people, both Jew and Gentile. The Church is something supernatural, divine, it is spiritual, and it’s unity is so too, all Christian persons are united inseparably in the bonds of Christ, and that Community on earth should be as dear to them, and command from them a degree of loyalty and devotion that is equally supernatural and divine. How we handle our differences says a lot about our true spiritual condition.
(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1997)