Athlete, Accept Each Other
Romans 14:3 (NIV)
The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them.
I recently met a Christian brother, Scott, who is about my age. We were talking about music and I was stunned he had never heard any Tupac or Eminem. Those men, for better or worse, were centerpieces of my growing up years.
What I thought would be something Scott and I could relate about ended up being the content that awkwardly ended our conversation.
It’s possible I projected my insecurity onto Scott. But after our conversation, I wonder if he judged me and thought this:
Jason’s a nominal Christian, a weaker brother, an imposter. He just lost credibility with me as a Jesus follower. He’s colluded with the world. He’s not into purity and wisdom.
Since I imagined Scott judged me, I judged him as a way to combat his imaginary judgements. This is what I thought:
Scott must live in a Christian bubble. He probably listened to TobyMac. I bet he thinks he’s better because he abstained from corruption. I’m sure he’s judging me and he’s not supposed to.
Doesn’t he know the Earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, including hip-hop? Doesn’t he know the Scriptures – that God is over all, through all, and in all, even hip-hop? He’s a weaker brother.
Look at how ahead of myself and out of hand I got. I treated him mean in my mind.
Student athlete, situations like this are painful and they pit brothers and sisters against each other. They are also confusing, because our brains want to know who’s in the right and who’s in the wrong – and it’s just not that simple.
But Romans chapter 14 can guide us. Even though it’s addressing food, it’s for those who struggle with differentiating from our brothers and sisters in various matters.
In that chapter, there’s counsel on how to deal with situations like mine and Scott’s: Stop passing judgment on each other, and accept each other, for God has accepted them.
If God has accepted someone, it’s impossible to find ground to stand on to reject them on His behalf. If God is less concerned than we are about someone’s past, it’s probably a sign we are being self-righteous.
Student athlete, you have brothers and sisters on your teams and in your classes who have different pasts than you.
They have listened to different types of music. They have done and seen different things in their lives. Their home lives and church experiences have been different from yours.
And God accepts them, because God isn’t as concerned about uniformity as much as unity.