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Christian Liberty Part 2

Christian Liberty  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  43:03
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God created the church to have unity with diversity. In Romans 14, Paul instructs Christians how to value unity over personal preferences.

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 God intends the church to have unity with diversity. <<play the video when I begin speaking>> One must only look around the created universe to know that God loves diversity. So many different variations of life. Plant life, aquatic life, animal life, even in humanity we see endless variations. Yet, the Scriptures say that in all of this great diversity, God still achieves unity. “As Psalm 19 declares” “The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament(sky above) proclaims his handywork. Day unto day pours out speech, And night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language, Where their voice is not heard. Their voice is gone out through all the earth, And their words to the end of the world” (Psalm 19:1–4) All of creation joins together to Glorify God in their own way. Even in the so called non-living things, we find unity in diversity. Jesus said that if men did not praise Him, the very rocks would cry out, giving God glory. (Luke 19:40) God loves to put diverse things together in such a way that they unite in glorifying Him without demanding that they be identical in every way. And aren’t you glad He does it that way?!? Imagine if every bird sang the same song, or dawned the same plumage! Imagine if every tree had the same leaves, or every person shard the same voice. That would indeed be unity…but unity without diversity would be so dull, unengaging, boring. Unity without diversity would be awful! But, God’s desire for unity with diversity doesn’t just apply to the created universe we see today. God desires unity and diversity throughout His kingdom and throughout eternity. The church also reflects this phenomenon, “And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.” (Revelation 5:9–10, KJV 1900) Rev 5:9-10 confirms that the church should forever be made up of people from every tribe and tongue and nation. Imagine the diversity in a church with people from every tribe, nation, and language. Image what kind of differences exist in a church filled with people from many different cultures! Differences, in styles and preferences: Clothing, food, music. (I’ve been a member of a multilanguage church we had unity) What the church looks like today should begin to look more and more like what it will be for eternity. A diverse multicultural church is a microcosm of the what the church will ultimately be Do you think CBC could function as a multi-cultural church? If not, we cannot rightly call ourselves Jesus’ church. Now, I’m not saying a diverse or multi-cultural church is easy. But, no one is talking about taking it easy in here are we? Remember, Unity without diversity is easy- But it’s boring! Nobody wants boring church. But, then again, who really wants to do the hard work of having unity with diversity. But, these are our choices. We either become clones of each other, and sacrifice diversity for the sake of cheap unity, or we embrace diversity and do what it takes to have unity with as much diversity as we can stand. In Romans 14, the Apostle Paul tells us what it takes to have unity with diversity. In Romans 14-15 Paul will tell us, that if we want to have unity, we will have to start valuing unity above our own personal preferences. Read Romans 14:1-12 The most common division among churches, has not to do with essential doctrines, but with non—essential preferences. In talking to the Roman church Paul is speaking a problem that we do not easily relate to. “Eating meat offered to idols, and keeping certain days as Holy.” These are things that were dividing the early Roman church. Yet, the things that divide our contemporary churches are different only in the details. The same problem they had plagues us today. That is this. There will always be differences of opinions over what should and should not be done as a follower of Christ, or in our corporate worship of Him. Paul divides these difference along the line of weak and strong Christians. By “weak” he means those with an immature conscience, and by “strong” those with a mature conscience. We might want to label them differently today, we might want to say, conservative and liberals. Or Traditionalist and Progressives. Why there are nuances of differences between the meaning of such labels. This division between the two usually boils down to preferences over how and what Christians should do in both their private life and in corporate worship. To this problem, God commands one solution. Make room for each other by seeking unity above your own preferences. Let each person enjoy their liberty in Christ. How do you we do this? Two Principles to remember when seeking unity with diversity. The more strict will tend to condemn the more liberal. The more liberal will tend to despise the more strict.   Both sides overcome this tendency by: 1.  Allowing Each Person to Follow Their Own Conscience. Verse 5- “Let everyman be persuaded in his own mind” This will be difficult for some of us. But, remember there is a difference between exhorting someone and condemning them if they fail to see things your way. In matters of sin, where the Bible calls out sin, pride, fornication, slander, drunkenness, greed, excessive anger, gossip- by all means, exhort your brother or sister in Christ and insist that they repent. But, in things not called sin, or in non-essential practices in the church. You may express your opinion, but do not insist that they agree with you- or condemn them or (slander) them to others if they do not agree with you. As verses 4-12 illustrated to us- It is as inappropriate to insist that the other person agree with you for the same reason it is inappropriate for you to judge someone else’s servant. Because, every one of us is first and foremost accountable to the Lord for every part of our life. (vv 7-12) I must give an account to God for how I exercise my Christian Liberty, not to you. I will be judged by how I responded to my conscience, not yours. Just as we teach our children that must not always insist of having things their way. So, it is a sign of Spiritual weakness, for Christians to insist that others agree with them on matters of Liberty and Conscience. No one holds up as a model, the church that splits over worship styles, or the color of the walls, or the use of multiple Bible translations. Such churches are an embarrassment to the Kingdom of God. A show of great immaturity and weakness. Transistion- But the church will always have those who are more mature than others. And this is by design, and unavoidable. So, how are we to maintain Unity in a church when there are some who are too weak to do the hard work of maintaining unity with diversity? The burden falls on both the weak and the strong. The weak are exhorted to mature, but the Strong are called to lead by example.   This is why Paul spends the rest of his discussion talking to the Spiritually mature. Those who have a mature conscience, must feel the greater burden to maintain Unity in the Church. Read (vv 14-19)   Paul will show them how not to become a Stumbling Block or Hindrance to spiritual weak believer.   1. Obey the commandment to love one another (15) The greatest sign of Spiritual maturity is great obedience to this commandment. All of the Law is summed up in this one commandment to love one another. The night before the Lord gave us His life as ransom for our souls- He repeated this commandment many times to the Apostles. His giving up His rights and being crucified for us, is the ultimate example of what He meant by “love one another”. If anyone in the church wants to spiritually mature- excel in this commandment. AND- When it comes to maintaining unity in a church with diverse opinions on what should and should not be allowed. The Strong must lead the weak by example. This means that if I consider myself to be strong. If I consider my conscience to be mature. If my understanding of grace and liberty in Christ allows me to partake of things and enjoy things, and worship God in a multi-cultural setting without demanding that everything be done just so in accordance to my experience, my traditions, my preferences… I must also… 2. Be willing to give up my right if it helps a weaker brother (vv 20-23) a. The believer who insists on exercising his liberty is probably in bondage to it. b. Understand that "I don't need this thing to serve God, but I do need my brother. (v 17)   Final Imploration:   The Goal is Unity with Diversity, not simply keeping the peace. Peace keeping can very easily turn into appeasement: That is, giving the other side everything they say they need to be comfortable. But this is not Unity. This is Uniformity. Uniformity in the Essentials is commanded. Uniformity in doctrine is preferable. But, Uniformity in everything is neither possible nor desirable. This ignores the fact that as a church grows in numbers diversity should also increase. God has commanded us to have unity with our diversity.   Verse 17- "The Kingdom of God is not in meat and drink, but in Righteousness, Peace, and Joy in the Holy Ghost. The “peace” of the Kingdom of God here is not, simply, I’m at peace because everything is going the way I want it to. If that’s the kind of Peace you need to be joyful in the church, then you won’t ever be joyful in the church. I don’t want that kind of peace in the church- that “rest in peace” kind of peace. Where the only people there are happy about it are those who are getting things exactly as they think they should be. That sounds more like a cemetery than a church! That kind of peace is only found in the grave- That’s why they say “rest in peace” It’s peace and joy in the Spirit. It’s peace that comes from righteousness- which means I love my brother and sister. The hard work of Unity with Diversity will require all of us to be willing to endure a little unrest (lack of peace) as we make room for others. The "weak" should be handled with care by the strong. But, the weak conscience should not be allowed to completely deprive the church of diversity. It's a difficult balancing act. But, the children of God are equipped for the task.   Let’s be those kind of Christians- so we can be that kind of church.         7
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