Romans 15:5-6, 7; Prayer for Conflict & Harmony

5ὁ δὲ θεὸς τῆς ὑπομονῆς καὶ τῆς παρακλήσεως δῴη ὑμῖν τὸ αὐτὸ φρονεῖν ἐν ἀλλήλοις κατὰ Χριστὸν Ἰησοῦν, 6ἵνα ὁμοθυμαδὸν ἐν ἑνὶ στόματι δοξάζητε τὸν θεὸν καὶ πατέρα τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ.

This is an interesting prayer, especially in view of yesterday’s post. Paul has alerted the community in Rome to get along prior to this prayer, and then he prays that “the God of endurance and encouragement” give (δίδωμι) the Romans a life of harmony according to Christ Jesus. Paul doesn’t pray for God to grace the Romans: merely give them a life that coheres with Jesus. Nor is it an end in itself: There is an aim that their shared life would have a public, doxological voice honoring “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Now, I really love the trinitarian character of all of this prayer! The request is for God to give the Romans a life that God already finds acceptable, welcomed, and suitable to be in his presence: and implicitly, that the Spirit would give the Romans the kind of experience of praise, honor, and glorifying of God that eternally goes on between the Father and the Son.

What I also note here is that Paul understands that conflict will happen among people, especially when groups are gathered that are ethnically-diverse as well culturally different from one another. And, he trusts-hence his prayer- that Jesus Christ will unite them into his mission and will do so via praise of the God of Israel. What Paul is not looking for- and correct me if I am wrong- is theological homogeneity among them. Instead, he says the following:

7Διὸ προσλαμβάνεσθε ἀλλήλους, καθὼς καὶ ὁ Χριστὸς προσελάβετο ὑμᾶς, εἰς δόξαν τοῦ θεοῦ.

That is pretty strong talk: no denying of conflict, but there is an ethic of hospitality that supersedes ideological conformity, i.e., inasmuch as Christ has welcomed you- and you most certainly don’t have complete and total conformity to Jesus- welcome others. The Spirit can do this in your life.

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