Everything is connected

Romans 14:1–23

For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died.

You don’t have to hang around a group of Christians long to find some controversy.

Christian music or secular music.

Democrat or Republican.

To drink alcohol or not.

Calvinism or Arminianism or Catholicism or Orthodoxy.

Public school or private school or home school.

Liturgy or house church.

Apparently some things never change. The particulars have, but the fact that Christians can’t agree on them hasn’t.

Now there are doctrinal essentials, things like Resurrection and Incarnation, and things that Scripture is pretty clear on, like don’t murder or commit adultery. Paul isn’t talking about things like that. This is more about details of lifestyle that Scripture isn’t so clear on.

It was no different for Paul and the early Roman church. For them, one of the biggest controversies of the early church was whether or not to eat meat. It had nothing to do with the health or ethical issues we might associate with meat. In the ancient world, you didn’t just walk into local grocery and pick up some beef or chicken. And forget about fast food.

To get meat, you had to go to a pagan shrine because slaughtering animals was tied to religious practice. (This was true of the Jews as well as pagans.)

So while some of the Roman Christians might say, Meat is meat. Food is food. God made it, so it’s good. Other Christians might’ve considered meat offered to idols spiritually evil based on association.

So here’s what Paul does. He doesn’t pick sides. There might be deep theological reasons for both side. And Paul ackowledges that when he says, you can do THIS or you can do THAT, but do it because of Christ.

But more significantly, Paul wants us to consider not just the WHY but also how it affects our less mature sisters and brothers in Christ.

Every choice we make has the power to draw people closer or to stumble farther away from Christ.


About peterjwhite

I am a pastor to college students in Tulsa, OK.
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