I *LOVE* doing this read through the N.T. email thing. I wish I was at a point that I didn't need 50 other people doing it with me to keep me on track, but then again.... I wouldn't be learning all I am with out them needing the same thing! He is good in how He uses our weakness to reveal His strength!
Coming out of Romans, straight into 1st Cor. I am struck by something powerful. These two books encompass much of what we struggle with balancing among each other. Grace, mercy, sin, responsiveness, law, obedience, freedom. My church background doesn't let this settle with me easily, though. I like things to be more "clear-cut" than I am finding out they are.
In His grace, we are freed up to do so much. Yet, the strength that His grace allows me to stand in is the very strength by which I am to support and uphold those who are not as "freed up" in some areas that I am.
My flesh wants to argue with those who don't hold my convictions. I don't want to be "held back" ! The very nature of a conviction, says 'I believe what I believe and I want you to believe it too!' When you don't agree, my insecurity wants to disconnect from you, at the very least.
Yet, my God says He empowers me not only to not disconnect or argue with or belittle you, but to protect your walk with God from my own vanity and arrogance.
My flesh doesn't like that that my spirit is told to do that!
But at times I walk on the other side of the fence too. Surrounded by many who are "freed up" in their personal convictions and understanding of God to pursue certain things in their life that I still carry much doubt about, despite their convicted reasoning. I may see it, and believe it, but He reminds me that until it becomes my own conviction, even if it is right, to pursue it would not be pleasing. My actions don't please Him, my faith does. Faith comes when internally ascribing to a belief, not from just agreeing to a well reasoned argument.
"Now may the God Who gives the power of patient endurance (steadfastness) and Who supplies encouragement, grant you to live in such mutual harmony and such full sympathy with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus. " ( Rom. 15: 5)
Jesus Himself, in one of the longest conversations we get a glimpse of that He has with God, prays for our unity with each other, so that we would glorify God.
I really think we all want that. I really think we all want to please Him in His request and hope of us.
I don't have to disclaim that I am not disputing the core facts of the gospel we have been entrusted with. I am just learning again that if we are to get nearer to honoring Christ's hope of our unity, it won't be found in the unity of "thought" or of each personal conviction we hold with another believer. It will be found in unity and dedication of ourselves to walk in humility and love towards each other. I think that is why He said that the whole Law (which we try so desperately to meet without admitting it) would be met in loving Him most and loving our neighbor as ourself.
"Love does no wrong to one's neighbor ( it never hurts anybody). Therefore love meets all the requirements and is fulfilling the law." Rom. 15:10
I spent too many years discrediting that verse for all the questions it did not answer in my mind. I find now that I was just not up for all the challenges that loving this way would actually bring. To devote myself to this kind of love leaves no time to resolve some of the issues I thought were so important to convince the world of before. Or at least my attempts to resolve them are much less volatile than I allowed them to be before.
That is not a weak move... but one that can only truely be upheld by His Spirit and His power, as far as I can tell.
So as I begin to admit there are a lot more spaces in the recesses of my mind I could clear out to make room for Him, I anticipate that challenge of this kind of love will bring new dimensions of life into view, especially among those who differ from me.
I admit, even as my flesh is afraid, my Spirit is excited!