There is a strong division of opinions regarding the current pandemic and vaccinations. One of the greatest challenges we face as disciples of Jesus is not so much where we stand, but how we can respectfully uphold people with differing viewpoints. We need to be able to do this without personal condemnation or judgement of others, or their points of view.
Read Romans 14:1-22
- Read Romans 14. What does it mean to hold our convictions with a “non-presumption of superiority” towards others?
- What does Romans 14 say to this? How might these verses apply to this statement?
- In what context did Paul write these verses? How might they apply to us in today’s context?
- Read Romans 14:4. What does this say to us about everyone having a liberty of conscience? How can we best respond to another person with an alternate viewpoint to us? Why can this be difficult for us?
- What do we need to change to be able to apply Romans 14:4 in our current circumstances?
- What does “mutual respect” mean to you? How can we apply this?
- Everyone will face both personal and collective consequences for their actions. How does this influence your personal decision making? Does this impact how you see other viewpoints?
In 1 Peter 3:15, Peter calls on us all to be willing to share the living hope of Jesus with others, but to do so with gentleness and respect. If we are to be a living example of Jesus in our world, we need to be able to treat others with both gentleness and respect. We will all be accountable before Jesus for our own actions, so we do not need to be the judge of another person’s opinions or actions. What is one way that you can demonstrate gentleness and respect to someone who has a different perspective to you today? Go and do it.
The body of Christ is made up of people from different tribes, nations and backgrounds, who hold varying points of view. Last week, Pastor Dale encouraged us to be respectful of those with different viewpoints. In Ephesians 4, Paul talks about keeping the unity of the body of Christ in the Spirit. This is not an easy task, especially when external factors promote division. Jesus himself prayed for believers to have unity (John 17), both with fellow believers and with God, so that the world can experience God’s love.
In a world that is currently divided by different positions on vaccination, we need to ask ourselves what is more important: being right at the expense of our unity, or prioritising our unity and reflecting Jesus to the world?
Read Romans 14:1-22
- What does it mean to live a life worthy of your calling? How does this look for you? In what ways have you made every effort to live like this?
- Read Ephesians 4:2-3. What are the characteristics that Paul teaches us to have especially in the midst of a disagreement? Which characteristic is the most difficult for you to apply?
- Read verse 3. We are not called to create unity. Instead, we are to keep the unity that God has established through Jesus. How might it be difficult to be at peace when we are facing a diversity of opinions?
- Pastor Dale says that “Unity is not the same as uniformity, and diverse thought and capacity is not divisive.” What is your understanding of this statement? Do you think it is easy to grasp this concept in our society today? Why or why not?
- Read John 17:20-24. Who is Jesus making these requests for (verse 20)? What will unity amongst Jesus’ followers accomplish?
Keeping the body of Christ united will help us, as individuals and as a community, to become the testimony of Jesus. We cannot always be in agreement with everyone, but in the face of diverse opinions we need to remember to uphold the value of the other person. What can you do this week that goes above and beyond to promote unity in the body of Christ?