Who hasn’t said or thought these words at one time or another? We say them because we think that someone doesn’t understand or appreciate us and as a result we feel a little disconnected and isolated. And it happens to everyone: young, middle-aged, old, male, female, black, white, Hispanic—it’s non-discriminatory. But there’s good news: it’s really not the end of the world when someone doesn’t get us.
In fact, the world will keep turning so there’s no need to blow up social media or go into despair. And to be fair about it, if there is someone who doesn’t get us, then there’s a good chance we don’t get them either. All we probably get about them is they don’t get us—and we don’t get that!
The better news is that “They don’t get me” doesn’t have to be the end of a relationship—it can actually be the beginning. It does mean that it won’t be one of those relationships that is so natural that it seems maintenance free, but it can be a good, solid relationship nonetheless.
In a perfect world everyone would get everyone. But we haven’t lived in that kind of world since Adam said to God something to the effect that the woman God had made for him didn’t get him anymore. One of the relational myths some people operate under is that someone has to “get them” in order for there to be a relationship. That’s simply not the case. After all, if that were true, none of us would have many relationships, would we? After all, who really gets us: our spouse, a few close friends and hopefully some family members? That’s a fairly small circle of relationships for most people.
This is the context for what Paul has to say to the disciples at Rome in Romans 14:1-15:13. There was tension between the Jewish and Gentile disciples. Part of it was due to the fact that they had vastly different backgrounds and perspectives since they came from different cultures. Then there was the fact that Claudius ordered all of the Jewish people out of Rome somewhere around AD 51 (see Acts 18:2-3). Three years later Claudius died and Nero took the throne and the Jewish people trickled back to Rome. Paul writes somewhere around AD 57-58 so for three years the Roman churches were completely Gentile and since then they had been in the process of reintegrating Jewish Christians. Relationally speaking, this had to have been quite a challenge. Although they were one in and through Christ, there was a lot they didn’t get about each other.
In 14:2-6, Paul touches on a couple of issues these two groups didn’t get in regard to each other: the eating or non-eating of meat (probably that had been sacrificed to an idol-1 Corinthians 8:4ff)) and the observance or non-observance of special days. While these things might not strike us as important, they were as important to them as issues like what kind of songs we sing, whether we have small groups, or any of a host of other subjects can be to us today.
What’s interesting and important is that Paul makes no effort to wade into their different ideas about “disputable matters” (v. 1). That’s because what’s under discussion are not core beliefs that are central to their faith like the lordship of Jesus, His resurrection, or the necessity of baptism. Their convictions about food and days were important to them, but in no way essential to their faith. Paul has no desire to micromanage these. In fact, he says that “each . . . should be fully convinced in their own mind” (v. 6). Their opinions weren’t the problem! Consequently, anyone who thinks that the solution to situations like this today is to get everyone to believe the same thing—good luck with that! (Call me when you and just one other person have reached agreement on everything). No, the problem was not the different convictions they had—it was the way they were treating others who had different ideas!
The truth is, there is no “cure” to people holding different convictions about matters like these—but there is treatment. Click here to read what Paul says concerning how we are to treat those people who don’t get us.