Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things. (Romans 14:1)
Years ago there was a poster in Christian book stores that showed two older men down on their knees, bent over and looking at something on the floor. They were to be understood as men of God, yet they wore scowls and were dark and appeared to be arguing over something. Between the two men you could see what they were looking at; it was a pin standing up on the floor. On the head of the pin were numerous angels dancing. The source of the argument was now clear. These two seasoned saints were engaged in a fierce argument on how many angels could dance on the head of a pin.
Wow, the point is clear; cutting and convicting. One might wonder how long this argument went on. Did it just become heated or had it been heated for years? Had this argument been born of tradition, education, or upbringing? We don't know. What we do know is that too many Christians are engaged in useless and distracting squabbles. We argue fiercely over petty and pitiful things. Anyone that's been around a church long knows exactly the kind of things I'm talking about. Unfortunately, we are very good at seeing those doubtful things among others and not so good at seeing them in the mirror. Romans encourages us to focus on the other, edify them; if they are weak, carry them. We aren't to destroy the relationship with our eternal brother or sister over color of paint, version of bible, style of worship, form of dress, opinion on tattoos, thoughts regarding smoking, drinking.........we could go on and on.
Before you begin forming your opinions or argument on this or anything else, let me finish the description of the poster. In the background of the picture, in the distance behind the two men, one could see a cliff with a sea of flames at the base. The flames are licking up the side of the cliff reaching up as if to grab at anything they could. On top of the cliff was an endless line of naked and scared humans inching their way closer and closer to the cliff with every step. A couple of people had already stepped over the edge, grasped by the flames and on their way down into the abyss.
Imagine a poster of you and the person(s) you argue with engaged in heated battle over __________. You fill in the blank. Does it reflect a person in Christ; one clothed in Christ who has presented themselves as a living sacrifice? Is your argument worthy of the distraction? Does it have eternal consequences?
While you can't see the faces of those walking toward the abyss, it's not hard for us to imagine them as our family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, maybe even folks at church. Consider the doubtful things we get drawn into argument over which was get distracted from ministry.