July 20, 2010

Ordination standards?

ROMANS 14:1-12

1Welcome those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of quarreling over opinions. 2Some believe in eating anything, while the weak eat only vegetables. 3Those who eat must not despise those who abstain, and those who abstain must not pass judgment on those who eat; for God has welcomed them. 4Who are you to pass judgment on servants of another? It is before their own lord that they stand or fall. And they will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make them stand.

5Some judge one day to be better than another, while others judge all days to be alike. Let all be fully convinced in their own minds. 6Those who observe the day, observe it in honor of the Lord. Also those who eat, eat in honor of the Lord, since they give thanks to God; while those who abstain, abstain in honor of the Lord and give thanks to God.

7We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. 8If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. 9For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.

10Why do you pass judgment on your brother or sister? Or you, why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. 11For it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall give praise to God.” 12So then, each of us will be accountable to God.

I can just imagine the arguments over meat-eating and Sabbath observance as issues in contention in the early church in Rome when ordination standards is the question on the table.  There are those who are going to demand that faithfulness looks one way and those who will take the opposite view, and each will have the same goal: to have one standard that everyone will be bound by so that there will be uniformity of practice.  What if you went from Rome to Galatia – you should expect to find the same practice in the church there, right?  What a mess the church would be if we believed that

12So then, each of us will be accountable to God.

But we are all passionate about what we believe, and being passionate means that it is really hard to accept that someone who feels passionately but differently should not be “despised” (v. 10) as our preliminary contribution to the eventual “judgment seat of God” experience that awaits them, right?

Or perhaps there is an alternative vision of a community of passionate diversity on matters of acceptable Christian practice.

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