The Call to be Likeminded
“Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.” (Romans 15:6-7)
The apostle Paul concludes his lengthy discussion of Christian liberty in what at first blush appears to be a most puzzling statement: a call to be likeminded. It is puzzling and a bit startling at first because he just spent nearly two chapters explaining to the Roman believers that it was perfectly acceptable to have different practices in non-moral and non-doctrinal matters, such as eating meat or esteeming days. He went to great lengths to make it crystal clear that they did not all have to hold the same view in these matters. It is OK to be different. Then he concludes his chapter by praying for them to be likeminded (vs.5).
Paul is not schizophrenic because his call to be likeminded in that context was not a call for the different groups of believers to be like each other. Rather, they were called to be like Christ. As believers, we are likeminded when the mind of Christ is manifested through us, even if our practices differ. If we step back a bit (for a wider picture of what God is doing in the world) and consider the MANY different cultural practices of Christians around the globe, it should be clear that God’s plan is not to make us all identical in all (non-doctrinal and non-moral) matters. The unity God has in mind is not a standardized uniformity or homogeny, but rather unity in the midst of diversity. That’s the way He made the Body to function.
We are like minded… not because we are like each other, but because we are like our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Our heavenly Father is not so interested in whether we eat meat or esteem a particular day (or whatever other controversial issue we might face); but He is interested that His children manifest His Son! This we can do (by His grace and power) and this we are OBLIGATED to do… regardless of how much we may differ on the issue of meat or days. We can eat or not eat – and thank and glorify God for it (Rom.14:6). We can esteem the day or not esteem the day – and thank and glorify God for it. Our real concern ought to be that each of us follows our convictions and the leading of the Spirit, and that we allow other believers who may differ to follow their convictions and the leading of the Spirit in their lives too. And most importantly we should ALL be able to worship together in UNITY… and with ONE mouth, to glorify God.
That is the purpose of the church – to bring glory to God. Men and angels are observing our fellowship (Eph. 3:9-11). They are astounded to see that believers with such strong differences are able to worship together in harmony.
There is nothing on earth like it, and it is truly a testimony to the work of God in the lives on yielded believers. Romans 14:7 tells us that we are to receive one another, with all of our differences to the glory of God. This is a demonstration to all observers (men and angels) of the manifold wisdom and grace of God and of the LIFE of Christ operating in His Body. This is why we are here!