Wednesday, August 29, 2012
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Okay, question for the day. What's the different between a melting pot and a stew? Oh, yeah, there is a difference! You see, a melting pot is where all the ingredients blend together and pretty soon you can't tell what is what. In other words, the ingredients lose their separate identity.
And how about a stew? Well, you've got the beef, the potatoes, the carrots, the onions, and whatever else might be in the refrigerator. They all pretty much stay what they are. The beef still is beef, the carrots stay carrots, the onions stay onions, the potatoes stay potatoes, and they'll make a pretty nice mixture.
Now, did you know that your church - your family - is probably more of a stew than a melting pot, and if you're not careful, the pot will boil over.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "How to Live in a Stew Without Having the Beef."
Our word for today from the Word of God is written to the saint's stew at the Church of Rome. Now, you've got to understand, this letter to the people of Rome - the Christians that we call the Romans in the book - are an interesting group of people. They're not all alike. In fact, in that church you have slaves and slave masters. You have probably the very rich of Rome and some of the very poor. You have very religious Jews from a scrupulous Jewish religious background. And then you've got people who've come from a totally pagan Gentile background who have come to Christ. It's really a saint's stew.
And guess what they're doing? They're arguing. The carrots are arguing with the beef, and the beef's arguing with the potatoes, and they are arguing over everything from what food it's Christian to eat, to what days it's Christian to take off and honor. And into the middle of this saint's stew Paul comes with his admonition in our word for today from the Word of God, Romans 14:19.
And since you live in a group of Christians who are very different, even in your family, you need this word too today. "Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification." Edification - that's a big old $100 theological word for making other people more important; for building them up, not tearing them down. Paul says you've got to work at it. He says you don't fall into this "make every effort." This is strain, this is really, you know, a lot of sweat and effort into this. Make every effort to do what leads to peace. Don't waste any energy on trying to get all of God's kids to be alike. He didn't make them to be alike; don't try to make them alike.
You know, God loves variety. That's why He created different fingerprints, different snowflakes, and that's why He makes His church a stew. The beef shouldn't become potatoes. The potatoes shouldn't become carrots. The carrots shouldn't become onions. Some of us pray loud, and some of us pray softly, and some of us are black, and brown, or white. We have different views on the 10% area of Christianity that Christians disagree on. But we're pretty much the same in the 90%. Why don't we emphasize the 90% we agree on? We worship at the same cross; we celebrate the same empty tomb. We're all family; we're going to be in heaven together forever.
Why do we let there be walls where there should be bridges? Now, you can be what God delights in - a bring-us-together person. Are you one of those? Emphasize what unites us as followers of Christ, not what divides us.
They'll know we are Christians by what? By our love. I'll tell you, there are enough people stirring up God's saint's stew. Why don't you keep it cool?