In the first part of chapter fifteen, Paul continues the idea of accepting the weaker believers. He doesn’t just say that we should bear with them without arguing, but that we have an obligation to carry their weaknesses with our strength. This is impossible for Christians to do if they are not putting on Christ daily through prayer and bible study. Paul says:
“Now we who are strong have an obligation to bear the weaknesses of those without strength, and not to please ourselves. Each one of us must please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.”
Romans 15:1-2 HCSB ( https://www.bible.com/72/rom.15.1-2.hcsb )
The question is are you among the strong? If we are to answer this question honestly we would all have to admit that we are strong in some areas of the Christian faith and weak in others. The same is true in life in general. Some parts of life we are very strong in, while in others areas we are weak. We who are strong are going to be referring to different people within the church depending upon the topic or issue at hand.
Regardless of the issue, the purpose of bearing with the weak is to build them up. Interestingly, Paul doesn’t say the way to build them up is to lecture them about their weakness. To tell them how strong you are and how they need to be more like you. Instead, Paul says that the way to build them up is to look for ways to please them. What Paul means by pleasing them is that we are to serve them with love. Showering them with the love and care of God, and placing their needs above our own. Eventually, when all in the church has the same attitude of servanthood through love the church will be the light of the community that God has called us to be. We have the perfect example of Jesus, who came to serve others and not to be served (Matt. 20:28).
“Now may the God who gives endurance and encouragement allow you to live in harmony with one another, according to the command of Christ Jesus, so that you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ with a united mind and voice.”
Romans 15:5-6 HCSB ( https://www.bible.com/72/rom.15.5-6.hcsb )
Paul goes on to say that when we are carrying the burdens of the weaker members through love, God will give us endurance and encouragement. We will receive strength through our relationship with Jesus and encouragement through the scriptures. Which will lead to harmony in the church and will be united to our worship of God.
The problem is that there is a disconnect within the church. This disconnect comes about as a result of three different groups within the church.
The first group that creates this disconnect is “Christians” not living connected to Christ. They may come to church, but they are not investing in their relationship with Jesus. They don’t study the word of God on their own and they don’t spend time in prayer. Then when they come to church they demand their way of doing things or demand to be served by others.
The second group that creates this disconnect is those that will read the Bible and pray, but they try to recreate God in their own image. They don’t allow the Holy Spirit through the word of God to change their lives. Instead, they want to change the word of God to fit their lives. They don’t want to die to themselves to live for God.
The third group that creates this disconnect are those that read their bibles and love sound doctrine but forget to love their neighbors as themselves. They are so focused on correct teachings that they fail to allow those teachings to become powerful agents of change in their lives, church, and community because they forgot to do all things through the love of God.
Then when all three groups come together to worship God there is no harmony because they are all focusing on their standards of the correct way to do church. The truth is that each group is weak in its own way. The first group is spiritually dead and needs to return to their first love, or perhaps even repent and come to genuine faith. The second group needs to start seeing the word of God as the infallible word of God that has the power to truly change their lives. The last group needs to continue to protect sound doctrine while remembering the love of God. Sound doctrine without love is not an effective tool, and will only result in legalism and bitterness toward the church.
Instead, each group needs to make the necessary changes in their own lives with the help of each other, and then there will be harmony in belief and worship. The church is failing in many parts of the world because the stronger believers are not bearing with the weaker believers through the love of God. When we correct this mistake on a global level the universal church will truly be unstoppable.