Unity in the Body of Messiah is a repetitive theme initiated by God the Father. Psalm 133 speaks loudly, followed by Yeshua/Jesus in His final prayer for His followers (John 17) and again established through the Apostles.
In Romans, we see many critically important instructions. Today, I am impressed to talk about the theme punctuated in Romans 16:17-18. “Now I urge you brothers and sisters, to keep your eye on those who are causing divisions and stumbling blocks contrary to the teaching that you learned. Turn away from them. For such people do not serve our Lord the Messiah, but only their own belly. By their smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.”
My heart has been grieved by the hostile, even arrogant rhetoric and divisive positions voiced and demonstrated within Messiah’s body. The basic tenets of our relationship with God is centered here. Rom. 13:9b-10, ”You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fullness of the Torah.” (Lev. 19:18) Paul continues his plea for the community to stop focusing on what in that time was a source of division regarding food – some ate meat and others only vegetables so as not to inadvertently eat meat that had been offered to idols. They placed more importance upon a weak and incomplete response to the real issue – which was living in trust and obedience to the Messiah who provides what we need to live faithfully in Him and toward one another. Rom. 14: 4 says, “Who are you to judge another’s servant?”, vs 10-12 says, “But why do you judge your brother? Or you too, why do you look down on your brother? For we all will stand before the judgment seat of God, For it is written, ‘As I live, says Adonai, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall give praise to God.’ So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.”
He goes on to give examples about how the two opposite factions judge each other regarding food and verse 15 “no longer walking according to love.” Verse 17, “The kingdom of God is not about eating or drinking (or the issues that divide us today) but righteousness and shalom and joy in the Holy Spirit.”
Paul sums up his instruction with verses 19-20, “So then, let us pursue what makes for shalom and for the building up of one another. Stop tearing down the work of God for the sake of …..”(insert current causes that divide!}
If I close my ears to the words expressed by both sides of the present divisions, I see angry, judging, self-righteous demeanor in both. By their fruit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control) you will know the one who truly walks with God and what is important to Him!
These passing situations – political persuasion and how to respond to a plague (covid) – are not present attributes of the kingdom of God. When we place our passion, focus, and agenda toward either end of the spectrum of these passing worldly element – we are not kingdom of God focused and are causing divisions.
When Messiah returns for His Bride, will the political powers and disease motivated responses be present at His Marriage Banquet? I dare say – NO! So let us not judge one another in how we decide to vote or respond to threat of this deadly plague! The real enemy is the deceiver who would entice us into his worldly domain to take sides in the activities of his kingdom.
Did Yeshua/Jesus ever instruct His disciples in how to oppose Rome? Do we read political strategies in the Epistles? NO! Their focus was on the kingdom of God and pointing people away from worldly agendas to find unity in Him – the One who willingly laid down His life for us and tells us to follow Him.
Let us love the Lord with all our hearts, minds and strength (Deut. 6:4) and let us love our neighbor by doing no harm to one another! Our divisive stands truly harm us. But His love draws us away from sin and into right fellowship with Him and one another.