Rom. 14:13 Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another.
Paul was writing to the Roman church about the fact that some of them were stumbling blocks to others who were trying to grow in their faith. Jews and gentiles were worshipping together and they had differing perspectives on what was okay to eat and what was not. Strong opinions existed in two very different camps, both sides believing that they were in the right. When one group didn’t do things just like the other they passed judgement and condemnation. This division within the church was visible to the world and was damaging to their testimony. Instead of spiritual growth and vitality the church was becoming a breeding ground for criticism. Paul was deeply disturbed by this behavior for it ruined the witness of the church and stifled opportunities for growth.
It seems that Paul is saying that our reactions to one another in the church can either result in being a building block or a stumbling block. I believe this highlights the need for careful self-reflection as we seek to be a community of faith that reveals Christ to the world. This idea of reflecting the Image is not just about us individually, it’s also about the church corporately. Think of the relationship found within the holy Trinity, one which is continually united and moving together in the same direction. The very nature of God, holy love, is reflected within the the relationship of the Trinity. Corporately we are to do the same thing — reflect God’s nature of holy love. In doing this the world will see God at work in and through the life of the church.
When there is division within the church we cease to move in the direction of Christlikeness. Instead the stumbling blocks become major obstacles to any kind of spiritual growth and eventually a church may simply die. That’s why this conversation was so important to Paul and it should be to us as well. The focus of a church community should be on spiritual growth and creating the building blocks so that a clear reflection of God will be recognizable.
So, maybe it’s time to reflect on whether our actions or behaviors are building up the community of faith or creating such stumbling blocks that the result is spiritual stagnation. Those who believe they may be helping a church by pointing out everything that’s wrong may actually be the stumbling blocks causing spiritual death for the community.
Stop passing judgement on one another and begin building each other up. Encourage spiritual growth within the community as together we become a beautiful reflection of the Image.
Lord, thank you for the reminder that I can be critical. Please help me to be a building block. Amen.
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