Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God. For I say that Christ has become a servant to the circumcision on behalf of the truth of God to confirm the promises given to the fathers, and for the Gentiles to glorify God for His mercy; as it is written,Therefore I will give praise to You among the Gentiles, and I will sing to Your name.Romans 15:7-9
I do not know if you have ever been involved in a church fight, but if you have, you know that tempers can get very hot. People can get very upset, and factions can form; divisions and feuds break out.
Yet I have never heard of a church fight that was any worse than the attitudes that Jews and Gentiles had toward one another in Paul's day. The Jews held the Gentiles in contempt; they called them dogs. They would have nothing to do with them. The Jews even regarded it as sinful to go into a Gentile's house and they would never dream of eating with a Gentile. They regarded them with utter contempt. In the book of Acts, Peter got into serious trouble with his Jewish friends because he went into the home of Cornelius, and ate with him. It was only because Peter could show that the Holy Spirit sent him there, that he was able to justify his conduct to his friends.
Of course, if the Jews felt that way about the Gentiles, the Gentiles paid it right back in kind. They hated the Jews. They called them all kinds of names. This is where modern anti-Semitism was born. These were opposing factions who hated one another, and would have nothing to do with one another.
Yet, Paul says, that kind of division God is healing by the work of Jesus. How did Jesus do it? A more literal translation of the text is that,
he became a minister of circumcision. What the apostle is arguing is that the Lord healed this breach between the Jews and the Gentiles by his giving in and limiting his own liberty. He who designed the human body, he himself consented to the act of circumcision. Jesus consented to that and limited himself in that way. He became a circumcised Jew. He who declared in his ministry that all foods are clean, and thus gave clear evidence that he understood the liberty that God gives us in the matter of eating, never once ate anything but kosher food. He limited himself to the Jewish diet, even though he declared that all foods were clean.
He who was without sin insisted on a sinner's baptism. He came to John, and John said,
Why are you coming to me? I need to be baptized by you. You do not need to be baptized. Jesus said,
Allow it to be so, for in this way it becomes us. It is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness, (Matthew 3:15). So he who had no reason to be baptized consented to be baptized. He who longed to heal the hurts of the world said that when he came, he limited himself to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
Paul's argument is that the results of that limitation were that Jesus broke the back of the argument and of the contempt between the Jew and the Gentile. He reached both Jews and Gentiles to the glory of God. If you trace this through you can see that what Paul is saying is that in the death and resurrection of Jesus, God showed his faithfulness to the Jews in fulfilling the promises made to the patriarchs; and he showed his mercy to the Gentiles, saving them who were without any promises at all. Thus the two, Jew and Gentile, shall fully become one, just as the Scriptures predict.
What Paul is really saying is,
You do not need to separate; you do not need to split; you do not need to fight; you do not need to sue one another. You can work the problems out, and God is honored and glorified when you do.
Thank you for this miracle of unity in Christ, and I ask that it be preserved in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Jesus' example is the answer to 'What would Jesus do?' The cross was the price He paid for our acceptance. Are we laying down our rights in order to accept others for Jesus' sake?