The word of the day is “like-minded.” The Roman playwright Terence (+159 BC) observed, “There are as many opinions as there are people: each has his own view” (Terence c. 160 BC). That observation holds for our time just as it did for the first century before Christ. However, in today’s reading of Romans 15:1-17, Paul writes, “Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another” (OSB vs. 5). Today we will consider what it means to be of one mind with our fellow believers.
In today’s reading of Romans 15:1-7, St. Paul applies what he has said about respecting the conscience of those who have misgiving about eating food that has been offered to idols. Now, he generalizes that those who are “strong” should “bear with the scruples of the weak” (vs. 1). Moreover, believers should not think of themselves but consider how to please one another (vs. 2.)
Empathy and Like-mindedness
When we speak and act, we should keep the thoughts and feelings of our fellow believers in mind. This kind of thoughtfulness requires empathy, the ability to put oneself in the place of others. When we do so, we adopt the same mind as others. We become like-minded.
The word like-minded here means that we are of one accord (Strong’s #3661, 176). We share the same way of thinking. We are united in our spiritual interests, concerns, and attitudes. A sign of such fellow feeling is that we “receive” one another (OSB vs. 7). Some translations say that we should “accept” one another (NIV, New. Am. Standard). But the Greek term comes from the thought of “taking to oneself” (Strong’s #3661, 176). We hold such common thoughts and feelings that we welcome one another not only into our homes but into our hearts.
What is the result of the loving acceptance of our fellow members of the Body of Christ? As we have noted, we bear with one another. Our forbearance comes from our understanding of one another. It is shown most clearly when we forgive one another whenever we have a grievance against one another (Colossians 3:3). Not only that, but our oneness of mind testifies to the One God and glorifies the Holy Trinity (vs. 7).
We have one mind with our fellow believers because we share “one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (OSB Ephesians 4:6). We are like-minded because we have been given one and the same Spirit. Finally, “orthodox” means “holding the right opinion” (Strong’s #1391, 72). That is, what we believe has been held by all from the beginning until now. Thus, in the Divine Liturgy, the deacon calls on all believers who are gathered together to “love one another that with one mind we may confess…” And the choir responds, “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the Trinity one in essence and undivided” (St-Tikhon’s 1984, 62).
Oneness of Mind is Neither Conformity Nor Uniformity
This unity in one mind is not conformity but communion in one transcendent reality, the life of the Holy Trinity. It is not uniformity but the harmony of individual hearts and minds in tune with Christ and one another.
St-Tikhon’s. 1984. Service Books of the Orthodox Church. Third ed. South Canaan, PA: St. Tikhon’s Monastery Press.
Terence. c. 160 BC. “LibQuotes.” LibQuotes. https://libquotes.com/terence/quote/lbo4e4f