Paul has a theme that comes up in many of his epistles, and the theme is unity. Because Paul mentions it so much, it’s clear to us that the early church must have had some fairly momentous struggles hanging together and staying unified.
Paul writes to the Romans to encourage them toward unity. But if you like interesting facts, he most likely writes this letter to them from the Greek city of Corinth.
Why is that so interesting? Simply because Corinth too had its own huge problems with cliques, contesting parties and deeply divided loyalties. The divisions ran deep in this congregation, and frequently there was no love lost between Corinthian Christians on either side of the dividing lines.
Paul writes, in other words, from one divided church to another divided church. And he pleads with the Romans to do everything in their power to bring about peace. He asks them to focus on building one another up, not tearing each other apart.
He reminds them that this will mean being patient with the weaknesses of others. It will require endurance. It will mean encouraging one another.
He assures them there’s a reason behind all this. A purpose.
As Christ-followers, we want to bring honor to God’s name. And we want to do that with one mind and one voice. We want to come together and shout out loud as one that God, our Creator, is real. That Jesus, our Savior, has forgiven the sins of the entire world. And that the Holy Spirit has the power and the authority to bring us to faith, and keep us strong in faith.
We want people to know the love and forgiveness of Christ. We want them to know the mercy and grace of God. We want them to know the power of the Holy Spirit to change lives.
So let’s hang together — with God’s help — and make it happen!
“Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification… We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up… May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. ” (Romans 14:19, 15:1-2, 15:5-6, NIV).
Our Bible reading for Saturday, August 1, is 1 Chronicles 11:1 – 12:22, Romans 14:19 – 15:13 and Psalm 89:46-52.
Lord, send us your Holy Spirit. We need his power and his help to hold our church together. We want to be a unified force in this world to carry out our glorious purpose: to share the name of Jesus Christ with as many as we can!