Dr. Bravestone: “We need each other, whether we like it or not”

Posted Jul 11, 2018

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Daily Scripture

Romans 14:4-7, 13-17

4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servants? They stand or fall before their own Lord (and they will stand, because the Lord has the power to make them stand). 5 One person considers some days to be more sacred than others, while another person considers all days to be the same. Each person must have their own convictions. 6 Someone who thinks that a day is sacred, thinks that way for the Lord. Those who eat, eat for the Lord, because they thank God. And those who don’t eat, don’t eat for the Lord, and they thank the Lord too. 7 We don’t live for ourselves and we don’t die for ourselves.

...

13 So stop judging each other. Instead, this is what you should decide: never put a stumbling block or obstacle in the way of your brother or sister. 14 I know and I’m convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is wrong to eat in itself. But if someone thinks something is wrong to eat, it becomes wrong for that person. 15 If your brother or sister is upset by your food, you are no longer walking in love. Don’t let your food destroy someone for whom Christ died. 16 And don’t let something you consider to be good be criticized as wrong. 17 God’s kingdom isn’t about eating food and drinking but about righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Reflection Questions

Now it gets hard. In Jumanji, Dr. Bravestone said, “We need each other, whether we like it or not.” Jewish and Gentile Christians in Rome saw many issues differently (e.g. observing holy days, eating “unclean” meat). Each side felt like shunning those who disagreed. Scholar Leslie Allen summed up Paul’s message to both sides: “It is nothing less than usurping Christ’s sovereign authority over a fellow-Christian to criticize him over a difference of opinion: for the less scrupulous to look down on the more scrupulous, or for the more scrupulous to judge the less scrupulous. Christian fellowship does not imply a right to run other people’s lives for them: only Christ can—and will—discharge such a right.” *

  • We usually don’t argue heatedly about which kinds of meat it’s okay to eat, so it may seem easy to agree with verse 17: “God’s kingdom isn’t about eating food and drinking but about righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.” We DO, though, differ about politics, social issues like gender identity or immigration, what “the Bible is inspired” means, even church music! How can you apply verse 17’s principle in relating to other Christians with whom you disagree on some issues?
  • In verse 13, Paul said part of Christian community is to “never put a stumbling block or obstacle in the way of your brother or sister.” That can be tough! Have you ever seen a Christian, sure they were right, avoid something in order not to put a stumbling block in the way of other Christians? What principles can guide you in deciding when preserving Christian connections is more valuable than winning your specific point?

Prayer

Compassionate God, help me to major in majors and minor in minors—and leave the judging to you. Fill me with your “righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Amen.


* Leslie C. Allen comments on Romans 14:1-12 in New International Bible Commentary, F. F. Bruce, gen. ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1979, p. 1342.

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Dr. Amy Oden

Dr. Amy Oden

Dr. Amy Oden is Visiting Professor of Early Church History and Spirituality at Saint Paul School of Theology at OCU. Teaching is her calling, and she looks forward to every day with students. Her latest book (Right Here, Right Now: The Practice of Christian Mindfulness, Abingdon Press, 2017) traces ancient mindfulness practice for Christians today.

Love each other. Might sound easy, at first. But it turns out this is really hard, and we Christians are prone to disregard it in our eagerness to be right or to be good. 

Maybe we need more specific instructions: Love each other more than you love your beliefs. Love each other more than you love being good. Love each other more than you love being right.  

Wise people remind us, again and again in different ways: 

  • "God’s kingdom isn’t about [being right in] eating food and drinking but about righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit." Romans 14:17
  • "We need each other, whether we like it or not." Dr. Bravestone, Jumanji
  • "If I have all faith, so as to move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing." 1 Corinthians 13:2
  • Love wins.
  • "So stop judging each other." Romans 14:13   

Love each other. Turns out this is really hard. What’s your phrase or sentence that keeps the door of Love open for others?

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