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Romans 14:1 and Paul’s advice on how to receive unbelievers into religious communities

Accept other believers who are weak in faith, and don’t argue with them about what they think is right or wrong.

Romans 14:1 New Living Translation

A short story of Henry, a former believer, and his return to church

Henry sat nervously in the pew as the pastor began his sermon. It had been years since Henry had attended church regularly. After going through a crisis of faith in college, he no longer believed everything his childhood church taught. Yet here he was, back in his hometown church on a visit to see his parents.

As the pastor spoke, Henry fidgeted in his seat. He didn’t want to be confrontational, but he knew if certain topics came up, he would feel compelled to speak up. Henry scanned the congregation, wondering if his changed beliefs would be obvious, and if he would be welcomed here.

Henry remembered the words of Paul: “Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.” Paul encouraged the early Christians to embrace newcomers, even those with doubts and differences. Henry hoped this church would do the same.

After the service, Henry lingered, chatting with some old friends. They welcomed him warmly, not questioning his time away or changed beliefs. One member named Joanne approached Henry and said, “We’re so glad you visited! Whatever your beliefs now, you’ll always be one of us.” Her words put Henry at ease.

While Henry had no intention of becoming a regular again, he was grateful for the reception he received. This church focused on compassion over conformity, acceptance over argumentation.

Just as Paul advised centuries ago, this church chose to receive over dispute.