Christians are called to be in the world but not of it. Even though a large amount of the people around us ridicule Christianity and mock our beliefs, we need to keep living as we’re called to live. Nothing hurts Christianity more than Christians professing to be Christians, but don’t live a life like God has called them. Unbelievers see the hypocrisy and it causes them to reject all of Christianity based on that. Paul, in the book of Romans, laid out a list of how Christians are supposed to treat each other. It’s sad to say that Christians have a tendency to have disdain for their fellow believers. Not only does this make us look bad, but it holds us back. If we can’t get along with each other, how can we possibly expect to bring other people to Christ?
First off, all Christians have different gifts and abilities. That doesn’t mean we’re more or less important in God’s plan for all of us, it just means we have different roles. Romans 12:3-8 lays it out very clearly for us. Whatever gift we have, we need to use it for God. During the time, people were arguing over which gifts were more important, and the ones who had the “best” gifts were flaunting them in front of the others. We need to be careful not to be prideful in what we can do, but be humble about it as we use it, and not show off. Otherwise, it destroys what we’re trying to accomplish.
We need to do is be supportive of our fellow Christians. Romans 12:13-15 tells us that we need to laugh with those who are laughing and cry with those who are crying. If a fellow believer is going through a rough time, we need to be there for them. Whether they need a shoulder to cry on, or someone to help them through a rough time, as Christians, we need to do what we can. The same applies to joy. If they’re happy about something, we should celebrate with them.
Romans 12:16 is an interesting verse. It tells us that we need to humble ourselves, and be able to live in harmony with one another, regardless of our respective lots in life. During Paul’s life, there was an enormous lifestyle difference between the rich and the poor, and there was a lot of favoritism and pride between the two classes. The rich or powerful were getting better treatment when they went to worship, while the poor were being cast to the side. This was damaging to the church, and flew in the face of what Jesus preached. Regardless of our place in life, we need to accept and associate with people who are poorer or less powerful than we are. We can’t allow the barriers that separate the classes in the rest of the world to enter into the church. We are all sinners saved by grace, wealth or power means nothing.
Paul continues in Romans 12:18, he states that we need to live in peace with all men as much as possible. Obviously, if they are doing something sinful that’s harming other people around them, we need to do what we can to make it a better situation, but otherwise, we need to just get along. We all know that guy (or lady) at church. You know who I’m talking about, the one with the annoying stories or obnoxious laugh, or perhaps worse the different political or life views than ours. They’re probably not a bad person, but we just can’t seem to get along with them. We need to set aside our differences and respect them, and treat them with the same Christian love that we show our family and close friends. It’s not easy, but it’s something we have to learn how to do.
The next verse is one that most of us probably will have trouble with. Romans 12:19 says that we’re not to try to avenge ourselves, as that is God’s place. If someone hurts us or rips us off, we can’t pursue them to get even or get back at them. That’s God’s place. Now, that doesn’t mean that we’re supposed to let ourselves just get walked all over on, but rather that we can’t try to take matters into our own hands to hurt them. There’s a huge difference between “justice” and “vengeance” but I think that’s a topic for another devotional.
This is a lot to cover in a single devotional, but it’s extremely important. As more and more churches split over stupid things like the color of the carpets or because of random comments that were said in anger and then blown out of proportion, it becomes very clear that we all need to take a step back and look very hard at ourselves and how we feel about our fellow Christians.