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Newsletter - Chips Off The Rock - September 2020

Thoughts from Norm & Carol Spicher Waggy in anticipation of the Mission Offering on Sept. 13:

We live in very trying times. With each passing day, it seems that there are ever more opportunities for disagreement and division. How do we respond at different stages of the pandemic? What should we think about social unrest? Who should we call upon for leadership? Even with much communal reflection and discussion, these topics can lead us to more questions than answers, and when disagreements occur, it can seem easier to find comfort with like-minded people than find common ground with those who think differently.

In Romans 14:1-15:13, Paul encourages the church in Rome to address differences and conflict with forbearance:
One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables.  The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them.  For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.  Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God.  You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.  Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.  Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.  Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.

Examples of these differences abound and include
– responses to COVID-19 restrictions (Is it the weak or the strong who wear masks?)
– theological differences (How do we love those who differ from us in our interpretation of scripture?)
– political differences (How do we function in unity as we approach an increasingly divisive election?)

On these issues and more, we are accountable to God when we make observations or decisions. William Greenway in Feasting on the Word shares:
“If you see any controversy dividing today’s church as a basis for exclusion of fellowship, Paul is speaking to you. Paul is not suggesting that we should stop advocating for our respective views. Paul’s concern and passion here is the spirit of Christians who are arguing, not the rectitude of their position” (p.62).

As long as this life lasts, tension and conflict will exist. However, through loving one another and surrendering ourselves to the Lord, we can live as the body of Christ in the world. May the words of Paul both challenge and comfort you and our congregation in these (and future) trying times.

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