In our first two posts on how to respond when other Christians annoy you, based on Romans 14-15, we saw that we’re to remember Christ died for them and Christ died for us. In this final post we consider the importance of remembering that Christ died for us.
3. Remember Christ died for us (Romans 15:7-13)
The church in Rome was probably planted by, and among, the Jewish Diaspora. Then the Jews, including Jewish Christians, were forced to leave Rome. We know this from Acts 18:1-2: ‘After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome.’ Overnight a Jewish-dominated church became a Gentile-dominated church.
But when Claudius died his decrees died with him. So at that point Jews (like Priscilla and Aquila) could return to Rome. Again, we know this because in Romans 16:3 Paul says: ‘Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow-workers in Christ Jesus.’ In other words, by this point Priscilla and Aquila are back in Rome.
Now, can you imagine what conflicts this might create? A Jewish-dominated church suddenly becomes a Gentile-dominated church. And then all the Jews come back. Actually we don’t have to speculate. We know what they were arguing about. We know there were tensions over eating meat offered to idols and observing the Jewish Sabbath.
So how does Paul respond? Look at verses 7-9a: ‘Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God’s truth, so that the promises made to the patriarchs might be confirmed and, moreover, that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy.’
Christ became human, became a servant, died on the cross for the Jews – to rescue the Jews, to fulfil God’s promises to the Jews, to redeem the Jews so they could be his people again.
But Christ also became human, became a servant, died on the cross for the Gentiles – so the Gentiles might receive mercy, so the Gentiles might become God’s people, so the Gentiles might join the Jews in praising God.
Look how Paul continues in verses 9b-12:
As it is written:
(And, by the way, is Paul’s way of saying, ‘I didn’t invent this. This has been God’s plan all along.’)
‘Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles;
I will sing the praises of your name.’
Again, it says,
‘Rejoice, you Gentiles, with his people.’
‘Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles;
let all the peoples extol him.’
And again, Isaiah says,
‘The Root of Jesse will spring up,
one who will arise to rule over the nations;
in him the Gentiles will hope.’
God’s plan has always been that through the death of Jesus Jew ad Gentile would come together to form one people of God, one choir singing God’s praises.
And not just Jew and Gentile, but people from every ethnic, social, economic background are brought together through the death of Christ. Christ died for us, to create us as God’s people, to break down divisions.
Christ didn’t die to create a divided church with Christians fighting one another. He died to create a united church with Christians singing with one another – with all our diverse voices coming together in harmony:
- together glorying God for his mercy (verse 9).
- together singing the praise of his name (verse 10).
- together finding hope in the reign of Jesus (verse 12).
Instead of moving apart through arguments, we’re to come together in worship.