Paul had described God’s gift of righteousness to humankind. He had shown that God’s righteousness is both legal (providing a basis on which sinners can be acquitted before the divine court) and dynamic (providing an inner power which leads to the transformation of the believer from within).
Now Paul went on to make yet another vital point. Those individuals who have received the gift of God are to band together in community. In the community of those who believe, fresh aspects of God’s goodness and His beauty will be expressed.
However, not every local church has experienced the joy of community. Why not? In these vital chapters of Romans, Paul described the attitudes and the actions which bond believers together in love, and which create a relational climate in which maximum personal spiritual growth can take place. How wonderful these chapters of Romans are! And how we need to take them to heart, making them our guidelines as we learn how to live together as God’s holy, loving family of faith.
è     Accept. This key term appears in Romans 14 and is used to describe our attitude toward all who are fellow-believers, even though they may differ from us in significant ways. The Greek word, proslambano, means literally “welcome,” to actively draw another into one’s society or circle of friends.
I don’t know why we picture righteous people as dull. But we do.
And we picture them as rather grim. As standing to one side, with a disapproving look on their faces while others frolic. Somehow the righteous person shows up dressed in black, while everyone else wears bright and colorful clothes. In the old movies we watch on TV, the scoundrel is the warm, engaging person who quickly makes friends.
How tragic when we let the world force our thinking into Satan’s mold. Righteousness isn’t like that at all! The righteousness that God gives us, and the righteousness that His Spirit is at work to shape in us, is a warm personal kind of thing. Rather than isolate us from others, for the first time we find it is possible to draw truly near. We find that the first fruit of the Spirit, love, warms and deepens our relationships with others who have become our brothers and sisters, one with us in the forever family of God. The second product, joy, makes the fellowship we share bright and colorful (see Gal. 5:22–23).
So let’s exchange our old, mistaken picture of righteousness for the reality. Let’s take off our imaginary suits of black. Let’s put on our brightest party clothes. Let’s reach out to others … stretch out our hands … touch … smile! Let’s call for the music to play, the celebration to begin! Let’s move out into the sunlight, feel its warmth, shout together, share our joy!
The righteousness of God finds its fullest expression in Christ’s new, loving, and joyful community.
Homothumadon. In our study of Acts we introduced this Greek term which means, “with one accord.” It was a word that God chose to describe the fellowship that existed within the earliest church. That word portrays the unique harmony and love that so impressed early observers. “See how they love one another,” was the remark. These early Christians, so varied in background (there were both rich and poor, Judean and foreign Jew), found a unity and love that observers could hardly believe.
Jesus had spoken of this dimension of Christian community before His crucifixion. He told His followers, “Love one another as I have loved you. All men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34–35). God’s plan for believers includes the demonstration of His righteousness in and through a loving community. Christ’s church is to demonstrate to all the world that righteousness, correctly understood, means love and joy!
The church is also to be the context in which growth and transformation take place in believers. We are to be nourished in our growth toward Christ’s likeness by one anther. In the acceptance and love of our brothers and sisters, we’re to sense God’s own acceptance and love, and to grow in that freedom from Law which Paul explained so carefully. “Grow up into … Christ,” Paul called it in Ephesians 4:15. Growing up, together, into Christ.
It is tragic that just as the Law has sometimes been distorted and misused by Christians, the church has too. Sometimes, rather than the joyful community of God’s plan, the church has become a joyless assembly. Rather than loving and accepting one another as brothers on a common pilgrimage, some churches have become legalist assemblies where conformity and pretense are the price of admission. The vital dimension of growth in Christ as a way of life has been set aside, and agreement on our doctrines, or our convictions and customs has been imposed. No longer are imperfect people welcomed, loved, and accepted as they are, in the calm assurance that growth in Christ is all they need. Instead, the believer in such a church is forced to try to hide his imperfections, and struggle to live up to a new legalism, imposed not by God but by men.
No wonder then that Paul, all too familiar with this same tendency in his own day, turned in the closing chapters of Romans to outline for us the way to the righteous, loving community that God seeks to shape. Paul here gave us clear, simple guidance for shared experience of God’s joy.
Richards, Larry ; Richards, Lawrence O.: The Teacher's Commentary. Wheaton, Ill. : Victor Books, 1987, S. 833
  March 2018  
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