In any Christian community there is bound to be strong differences in opinions and convictions about disputable matters. This can sometimes lead to heated arguments, strained relationships, arguments, fractures in families, cell groups and even congregations.
Some people cannot live without clear black and whites, laws and regulations, and fine lines. They take a position and insist that others follow suit. They want uniformity, not unity. They feel uncomfortable and want to impose their convictions on the rest.
This is not the way of Christ, according to St Paul. He expressed this in Romans 14, 15. It seems that the network of home churches in Rome were grappling with such arguments and disputes specifically about what could be eaten and drank, and what are special holy days. These strong opinions seem to stem from the diverse cultural religious backgrounds of converts from pagan religions as well as Judaism.
It is no different in today’s church. There are disputable matters that can overturn peace and harmony in the church. Matters like eating food offered to idols, consumption of alcohol, dressing and musical styles in church, yoga, acupuncture, tai chi, martial arts, tattoos, dancing, and in recent years, vaccination. What are the guidelines as to how we are to relate to people with different opinions about such matters? In short, they are:
WHAT NOT TO DO (how to un-love)
DO NOT QUARREL OR FIGHT OR SPLIT (IMPOSE ON OTHERS) – Rom 14:1
DO NOT DESPISE OR JUDGE OTHERS – Rom 14:3
DO NOT CAUSE OTHERS TO STUMBLE – Rom 14:13
WHAT TO DO (how to love)
BE FULLY CONVINCED IN YOUR MIND – Rom 14:5,23
ENJOY YOUR LIBERTY BUT BE WILLING TO RESTRICT IT – Rom 14:14,15,22
SEEK UNITY & EDIFICATION – Rom 14:19; 15:5,6
I dealt with this in a sermon that was part of a series of on Romans done by World Revival Prayer Fellowship pastoral staff. In this sermon I talked about what disputable matters are, who are the “strong” and “weak” Christians, and how we are to handle such hot potatoes and relate to people in love throughout. I also talk about why it is important for us to do this and what is important to the heart of God. Finally I summed up the book of Romans. You can listen to the sermon titled “DISPUTABLE MATTERS: HANDLE WITH LOVE” in the video below: