Romans 15:7-13 How to Glorify God Together This Christmas

Romans 15:7-13 How to Glorify God Together This Christmas December 6, 2016

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Romans 15:7-13 How to Glorify God Together This Christmas

THE PURPOSE – GLORIFYING GOD IN UNITY

The purpose of Christmas is to bring people together.

The purpose of Christ’s first coming is to bring believers together.

The opening words express the main point of this paragraph: “receive one another.” Paul thereby returns to the theme with which he opened his exhortation to the “weak” and the “strong.” But there is an important difference: in Romans 14:1, he urged the Roman community to “receive the person who is weak in faith.” Here, however, he exhorts every believer to receive every other believer.1

“For I say that the Messiah became a servant of the circumcised on behalf of God’s truth, to confirm the promises to the fathers,” (Romans 15:8, HCSB)

When Paul says that the Messiah became a servant to confirm the promises, it means that God was building a spiritual family through Jesus. The church was created by Jesus give us something that we have in common – Him. We don’t look to an outward symbol of faith like circumcision that must be permanently marked. Instead, as the church and as a church, we accept all kinds of people. The Jews and the Gentiles (everyone who is not a Jew) can come together to worship God and glorify Him.

THE PRIORITY – TO ACCEPT ONE ANOTHER

Therefore, the church should be accepting of all kinds of people. The church should learn to let people glorify God together.

Therefore accept one another, just as the Messiah also accepted you, to the glory of God.” (Romans 15:7, HCSB)

How did Jesus accept you? When I was lost, Jesus accepted me totally, without conditions, and Jesus accepts me exactly where I am. Paul says just as Christ accepted you, we are to welcome. Welcome means to embrace, to invite into one’s life, to invite into one’s circle, to invite into one’s family. He says accept one another in the same way that Jesus Christ accepted you.2

Just because I accept someone, it does not mean that I will agree with them. But just because I don’t agree with them, I still should try to get along. This is very important especially during this Christmas season. Families are stressed out because of high expectations. Some people will bring up subjects that others don’t want to hear. It’s easy to get divisive when we are together. It’s easier to open your mouth than it is to keep it shut. It’s easier to let people hear what you think than it is to start listening to other points of view. That’s why as Christians, we need to accept one another.

“and so that Gentiles may glorify God for His mercy. As it is written: Therefore I will praise You among the Gentiles, and I will sing psalms to Your name.” (Romans 15:9, HCSB)

Some churches use the principle of people groups to reach certain groups – bikers, cowboys, sportsmen, ethnic groups, and by location. These churches understand that sometimes you can reach people better when the people you reach have something in common.

But what Paul points out is that every Christian has something in common – faith in Jesus Christ. This faith should cross all of these commonalities that can serve as barriers. It did for the Jews and the Gentiles in the early church. Paul points out from the parts of the Old Testament:

THE COMMON FAITH FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT

1. The Books of Moses (The Law)

“Again it says: Rejoice, you Gentiles, with His people!” (Romans 15:10, HCSB)

“Rejoice, you nations, concerning His people, for He will avenge the blood of His servants. He will take vengeance on His adversaries; He will purify His land and His people.” (Deuteronomy 32:43, HCSB)

2. The Prophets

“And again, Isaiah says: The root of Jesse will appear, the One who rises to rule the Gentiles; the Gentiles will hope in Him.” (Romans 15:12, HCSB)

“On that day the root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples. The nations will seek Him, and His resting place will be glorious.” (Isaiah 11:10, HCSB)

3. The Wisdom Books

“and so that Gentiles may glorify God for His mercy. As it is written: Therefore I will praise You among the Gentiles, and I will sing psalms to Your name.” (Romans 15:9, HCSB)

“Therefore I will praise You, Lord, among the nations; I will sing about Your name.” (2 Samuel 22:50, HCSB)

“Therefore I will praise You, Yahweh, among the nations; I will sing about Your name.” (Psalm 18:49, HCSB)

“And again: Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles; all the peoples should praise Him!” (Romans 15:11, HCSB)

“Praise the Lord, all nations! Glorify Him, all peoples!” (Psalm 117:1, HCSB)

4. The Time of Jesus’ First Coming

This was the goal of Jesus’ first coming:

“The nations will put their hope in His name.” (Matthew 12:21, HCSB)

– to bring people together.

This is the hope of the church that lives out the Gospel – Christian unity without any kind of barriers.

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in Him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13, HCSB)

The goal is to glorify God together in unity.3

Paul continues to drive home the fact with these references to other Scriptures that Jesus came for the Gentiles as well as the Jews. For example, Paul might have the following conversation:

“The Gentiles?” the Jew would say. “They’re so trite and shallow. They’re unschooled in theology and have such a limited background in biblical history.”

“Aha!” Paul would answer. “Guess who’s singing in their midst!”

And the Gentile would say, “Those Jews are so bound in legalism and tradition. They’re so stuffy.”

“Wait a minute,” Paul would interject, “Jesus Christ was a Minister of the circumcision.”

The implications of this are pretty radical.

There are some churches you walk into and think, This place is dead. The pastor wears robes. The people sit all dressed up like corpses. There’s no life whatsoever.

Then you hear the Lord say, “Wait a minute. These people might not be your style, but that doesn’t mean they’re not My people.”

Other places you walk into and say, “Oh, my. These people aren’t dead, but they’re shallow. Sure, they’re exuberant in their praise. But the preaching lacks substance.”

Then you hear the Lord say, “Wait a minute. I love these people. I am in the midst of this church.”

You are?” you ask.

“Yes,” He answers.

You mean You’re into both the Jews and Gentiles, both this group and that group?”

“Yes. They love Me, so give them space.”

The Lord is so big. Yet we can be so provincial and so narrow. “Well, if they worship in this manner or with that intensity, or with that kind of liturgy, they’re wrong,” we say. Not necessarily. If they love Jesus Christ and desire to walk with Him, give them space. Don’t be critical of them or divided from them. Just rejoice with them.4

When it comes to worship, we may have a blended style. Because there are some people who like the hymns. There are others who like the praise songs. It’s like the God of the Jews and God of the Gentiles. They are different, but God is the same. You may have your issues, concerns, and difficulties with another style. You may want to complain about it. You need to remember that worship should build the church, not divide it. If you are trying to start a worship war, then maybe you need to rethink why you have a problem with the worship style. It’s probably an attitude problem.

THREE AVENUES TO BUILD UNITY

So how can we as believers glorify God with a spirit of unity? I think this passage gives us three main avenues to pursue. These avenues that build unity with others form the book-ends of this section of Romans. How I react to others during this Christmas season is very important. If I am going to glorify God, then I have to do that with people. Christmas forces us as believers to really live out our faith with the people we care about the most. But emotions can get in the way. The stresses in life can cause you and me to not really act like believers. But there are ways I can share Jesus by my attitude.

1. Accept people with peace

Therefore accept one another, just as the Messiah also accepted you, to the glory of God.” (Romans 15:7, HCSB)

Everyone has that special person they wish didn’t show up to the family Christmas celebration. For whatever reason, I just may feel like accepting some people. But I have to because they are family, or they are my neighbors, or they are people I work with. I have to get along with them.

2. Ask God to fill me with His Spirit

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in Him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13, HCSB)

But even if I accept that other person, I may not feel right. I may feel uneasy, stressed out, anxious, and restless. That is why I have to ask the Holy Spirit to fill me during the Christmas season. When I need joy and peace, I can ask for this from the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit convicts me of unrighteousness and leads me to righteousness. The right way of living the Christian is to build one another up in unity. It’s easy to divide. It’s easy to gossip. It’s easy to tear people down. It doesn’t take any energy to do that. I can do that automatically. My sinful leads me to do that without thinking. But it takes spiritual work for me to build others up. That is why I have to ask the Holy Spirit to fill me with hope. Because it is the power of the Holy Spirit that helps me share hope and encouragement with others.

3. Respond with hope

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in Him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13, HCSB)

The only way I can respond with hope is by the power of the Holy Spirit. Hope is what we are called to share during this Christmas. So many people feel hopeless and they need to feel hope. They need to experience hope. They need to see hope.

A tourist approached a farmer in Iowa and said, “Don’t you think all these fences ruin the beauty of the fields out here?”

“Yep,” said the farmer—“until the corn starts growing. When the corn starts growing you don’t even see the fences.”

When are fences seen in the church? When there’s no fruit. That’s when the divisions become real and pronounced. But when there’s growth and fruit, evangelism and ministry, the fences of factionalism disappear. That is why the more evangelistic a church is, the less divided it becomes.5

When I share my faith with others, when I share the hope of Christmas, I am planting fruit. I am investing in other people. I am saying that I take the time to build the church, not tear it down.

1 Douglas J. Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1996), 873.

2 Robert J. Morgan, Nelson’s Annual Preacher’s Sourcebook, 2009 Edition. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, n.d.), 265.

3 Jim Erwin, “Glorifying God Together in Unity,” Romans 15:7-13, 15 October 2015, Lectionary Reflections Year B (2014-2015), Logos Bible Software Notes, found at http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jimerwin/2015/10/15/glorifying-god-together-in-unity/, Internet, accessed on 1 December 2016.

4 Jon Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2003), 993.

5 Jon Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2003), 994.

Photo by William White courtesy of Unsplash.com

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