When our leadership team met to discuss the various factors involved with reopening church after three months of the coronavirus pandemic, I shared the following devotion with them. The questions and reflections are from Romans 14, and I have posted the verse references after each question/reflection so you can look them up yourself. This is a passage that deals with what may be called “doubtful matters” or “disputed matters.” These types of matters would be those which are not explicitly mentioned in scripture; therefore, Romans 14 was written to help guide Christians on making decisions about these “greyish” circumstances.
The questions and reflections below can apply to any disputed matter, including whether to and how to reopen church or not. I will simply list the questions and reflections and not the full scripture passage since that would take up more space than is necessary. I would encourage you to go through Romans 14 on your own and see how you might be helped by scripture on the many “disputed matters” we run into in our lives.
Remember these few items: 1. There are some grey matters in life. 2. Not every matter is a major matter. 3. Churches often stumble and fight, unnecessarily, over minor (disputed/doubtful) matters. 4. Loving others and honoring God takes precedence over everything.
1. Am I arguing or getting upset about a core doctrine of Christianity for whom millions of Christians have died, or is this a “disputed” (doubtful/grey/non-core) matter? (v.1)
2. Do not judge someone on the other side of a disputed matter as being wrong for God accepts that other person on the other side of this matter. (v.3)
3. Will I let the Lord judge that person with whom I disagree? I must remember that I am not the judge, but God is. (v.4)
4. Do I honor the Lord with my decision on this “disputed matter”? (v.5-6)
5. He (the one on the other side of this disputed matter) will be judged by God and I will be judged by God, therefore, is that alone not Enough judgement for the Both of us? (v.10)
6. What will I say to God Himself about my stance on this disputed matter? (v.12)
7. Is my firm stance on this disputed matter, and are my firm actions, a “stumbling block” or a pitfall to my brother or sister in Christ? (v.13)
8. Can I allow myself to be persuaded that I am correct on a disputed matter without trying to convince another who thinks I am wrong about this matter? (v.14)
9. Am I walking in love? Am I destroying a brother or sister in Christ with my stance and actions? (v.15)
10. Do I think that God’s Kingdom stands or falls on this “disputed issue,” or do I believe that the Kingdom of God is more than this issue (righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit)? (v.17)
11. Am I willing to sacrifice what I think is right about a disputed matter in order to promote peace and build up another brother or sister in Christ? (v.19)
12. Am I tearing down God’s work by taking too strong of a stance on a disputed matter? (v.20)
13. Am I willing to allow myself to not feel guilty for holding to an opposite conviction of others as long as I am not a stumbling block to others? (v.22).
Billy Reinhardt is the pastor of Riverside Heights Baptist Church in Tallassee and a regular faith columnist for The Tribune.