One of my Facebook friends posted this: “If you try to have a debate in FB, it leads to unfriending.” He later lamented the fact that the dispute was over college football. While I understand cutting ties with people who support certain teams, it’s not a healthy, biblical practice for maintaining relationships. Unfortunately, our fascination with “social media” may have led us to be less than sociable. The ease of posting our opinions seems to have led us to believe that our opinions are more important than our relationships, and many relationships have suffered.
We have to guard against this in the church. In Romans 15:7, Paul tells us, “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” The context of the chapter seems to be about more than just differing opinions but about weaker versus more mature faith. While our squabbles are often over matters of opinion, the Roman church’s problems seem to have been about deeper spiritual matters.
It’s interesting, then, that Paul reminds the church that those whose faith is stronger ought to bear with the “failings of the weak” (Romans 15:1). Of course, Paul isn’t suggesting that we accept sin; just a few verses later, in Romans 15:14, he tells them to instruct one another. However, Paul is clearly trying to bring together what seems to be a fairly diverse body of believers.
The church in Rome was comprised of both Jews and Gentiles, people who were rich, people who were poor, both slaves and free men. They were just as diverse as we are today, and Paul told them to “accept one another.” But it wasn’t in the sense that the world understands acceptance; Paul said to “accept one another… just as Christ accepted you.”
Remember, then, as you scan your Facebook newsfeed or as you interact with people with whom disagree about politics, sports, or any other hot-button issue, that “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Don’t allow these disagreements to break your relationships. Better yet, take the opportunity to use your disagreements to show God’s forgiveness and love “in order to bring praise to God.”