Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Accept other believers who are weak in faith, and don’t argue

Rom. 14:1-9 NLT  
   1 Accept other believers who are weak in faith, and don’t argue with them about what they think is right or wrong. 2 For instance, one person believes it’s all right to eat anything. But another believer with a sensitive conscience will eat only vegetables. 3 Those who feel free to eat anything must not look down on those who don’t. And those who don’t eat certain foods must not condemn those who do, for God has accepted them. 4 Who are you to condemn someone else’s servants? Their own master will judge whether they stand or fall. And with the Lord’s help, they will stand and receive his approval. 
   5 In the same way, some think one day is more holy than another day, while others think every day is alike. You should each be fully convinced that whichever day you choose is acceptable. 6 Those who worship the Lord on a special day do it to honor him. Those who eat any kind of food do so to honor the Lord, since they give thanks to God before eating. And those who refuse to eat certain foods also want to please the Lord and give thanks to God. 7 For we don’t live for ourselves or die for ourselves. 8 If we live, it’s to honor the Lord. And if we die, it’s to honor the Lord. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. 9 Christ died and rose again for this very purpose—to be Lord both of the living and of the dead.

Paul, known for coming out his Pharisaical background where judging others was the way of life, brings a new message to God's followers through Christ, in first century Rome. The whole area of judging and finding reasons to look down upon (condemn) others is an outgrowth of arrogance.  Think about it. When one thinks that another is not living as s/he should then one is tempted to envision him/herself as being a step or two above that person-- as better than that person. But God did not call us out of sin to think of ourselves highly. He called us out of sin and even gives us the ability to deny sin's power over us so that we will live humbly and serve others, calling them from sin as well.

Where new believers are concerned, we are not to think of them as lower than us (or higher either). We are simply to love and serve their needs. We are to teach them when they are ready for teaching (but not before). I used to be a classroom teacher of small children. I could not teach a child to read a book like 'War and Peace' when they were still learning basic phonetic sounds and the alphabet. They were not ready. So, the new believer may not be ready to understand the 'finer points' of theology that has grown up around our belief systems. We need to let The Holy Spirit raise them up to readiness before we try to teach them about our theories of theology. And even then we must be careful to teach ONLY what the Bible teaches and leave room for differences where legitimate differences among God's well-meaning people clearly exist. So the doctrines of eating or not eating, meat or veggies, sabbath Saturday or sabbath Sunday-- the Lord's Day, special holidays or all days are worship days, holding the Lord's Supper or serving communion and doing it weekly or quarterly, all are places that are not essential for true faith. Honest believers disagree on these and many other such items. Your task and mine, is to prevent such disagreement from causing division between us and the other. And if it is we who first perceives the division then it is we who must make the re-unifying effort in reaching out to the other in love.

Your Servant in Christ's Love

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