Does It Matter If They Are Missing?

Does It Matter If They Are Missing?
Robert Wurtz II

But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. (Romans 14:10)

Our passage in its proper context is dealing with the need for Christians to tolerate one another in their varying views of non-essential matters. Paul reminds the Romans that there are people that do things to express their faith in Christ – while others do the exact opposite thing and do so as an expression of their faith in Christ. One person may keep the sabbath as unto the Lord and another may not keep it as unto the Lord. God accepts these type of things as expressions of our faith. There are many things like this where Christians take different views. The trouble is when one group tries to use their particular expression of faith as a litmus test for other Christians. In other words, if you don’t do things my way then your not really a Christian and you have no use in the kingdom of God. 

Notice the language of our passage, “Why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother?” As if God were pointing His finger at us and asking this question, “Why are you rejecting your own brother?” Just because a believer does things different or even in a way we detest does not mean we have the right to reject them as our brother or sister in Christ. This passage makes this point clear.

Notice the language of “brother” used twice. Paul is appealing to our sense of family. Decent brothers don’t treat one another as if the other one were illegitimate. That would be unconscionable. Imagine how horrible it feels to be despised. And yet that very thing can happen in the kingdom of God. A sort of sibling rivalry can develop that severely grieves the heart of God. Understand that there are few things more heartbreaking to a father than to know that his children are bickering, mistreating each other – or even disowning one another. Good father’s long to see their children love one another. I can almost hear our loving Heavenly Father asking, “But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother?” God loves all of His children. He does not ask our permission to love Christians that we don’t agree with or have fallen out with. He loves us and He loves them. And He expects us to love one another.

Have you ever put a 500 piece puzzle together only to somehow lose one of the pieces? Here is a masterpiece and there is that glaring missing piece. The 499, for all their beauty, cannot erase the gaping hole left by that 1. Think of how annoying and disheartening it is to look at. Some puzzles take tens of hours to assemble. Now imagine for a moment that the missing piece had been taken from the box and maliciously thrown into the trash as if it were worthless. You would want to know who had done it and why they had done so. And if that is what happened, it would be bad enough. However, in the kingdom of God we are not dealing with puzzle pieces; we are dealing with precious souls. We are dealing with people that are trying to serve God the best way they know how.

One of the hardest things to accept sometimes is that God purchased with Christ’s blood those people that men are quick to disown. Think of someone right now that you have seen being set at nought. Would you have dismissed them because they are different then you? Anthony Norris Groves once stated, “What a blessing it is that the Lord’s heart is so large, that He can help wherever he sees some good thing; whereas man withdraws whenever he sees some evil thing, which is generally found to mean something that wounds his own self-love in the little scheme he had set up as perfection.” Not everyone is going to be like us and think like us. Our little schemes of perfection put us at risk of excluding people that God considers His children. Not everyone is a child of God, but who gave any of us the right to use our little formula for perfection to determine who is and who is not? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. To withdraw fellowship from a professing Christian is serious business. We need to be very careful that our attitude towards other brothers and sisters is pleasing to God and not the result of something ungodly in us. 

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