Monday, March 26, 2012

If music be the food of love, play on (Romans 14)

Spring Break is over, but it was a glorious week!!! I did just about nothing, and it was wonderful. Other than watching all three Lord of the Rings extended edition, I just relaxed and enjoyed the break from school.

Anyway, enough about me. Today I want to write about something that comes from Romans 14. There are so many theological implications and life applications within this chapter, but I want to focus on one subject in particular. So sit back, relax, and enjoy!


The passage I want to outline is a little longer than usual, so bear with me. I think it will be well worth your while, though, to take a peak.

Romans 14: 13-23:

          "Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died. Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.
          Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.
          So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves. But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin."

This passage has had many applications during my lifetime and has really become apart of how I view my actions and the actions of others. It's also something I believe every person needs to give a lot of thought to and decide how they will approach this matter in their own minds.

Now, these verses talk about eating and drinking. During this time, there was much debate about whether or not certain meats were unclean or clean, and therefore able to be eaten. Since Christ was fulfilling the old covenant, this meant that all food had been cleansed, but there was still a faction of believers that held to the fact that meats were ceremonially unclean and unfit for consumption.

This example doesn't necessarily apply to today's society, so let me put this concept in a more modern illustration: Let's say you want to watch The Shawshank Redemption. This movie is rated R for language and prison violence. Now, you have no problem with the language or the violence, so you deem it perfectly fine for you to see it. This resembles (in effect) the faction of people that believe you can eat anything. Now imagine your friend relays to you that he thinks this movie is completely inappropriate for a Christian to watch and is appalled that you would view such a movie. He represents the people that believe you can't eat meat because it is unclean.

Now that the stage is set, the action can take place. The application Paul wants us to get out of the illustration is this: Don't watch the movie. It is better for you to forsake your watching of the movie than to cause your friend to be distressed. You may think it's perfectly fine to see it, but if your friend is going to be hindered because you decide to watch it, then it is better that you don't.

Here's another example. You think its perfectly fine to drink beer (you're older than 21) as long as you don't get drunk. Nowhere in the Bible does it say, "drinking alcohol is a sin." Getting drunk and letting the alcohol blur your judgement and control you is a sin. However, you like the taste of beer (for some strange reason) so you drink it in small amounts in your home. If your grandmother thinks so much as taking a sip of wine is a sin, then you shouldn't drink around her. You're not getting drunk or wasted, just consuming light amounts of alcohol, but your grandmother thinks its terrible. Just don't do it. Who cares if you think you're perfectly fine in doing so, if it causes your family member to stumble, it is better to not do so.

I think an earlier verse will help make this even clearer. In verse 6, it says, "Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God."

This chapter also talks a lot about not passing judgement on one another, so I encourage you to dive in and explore it yourself. Anyway, the main point I want to get out of this blog is this: Everything you do should only build another up. If something you are doing, whether you are convinced it is right or not, is causing another to stumble, it is better for you not to do it. Read that again if you need to.

Before I drag this out any longer than it needs to be, I will conclude. Hopefully you've gained a better understanding of this chapter, and my biggest hope would be that you would dive into the passage yourself and evaluate it through your own perceptions. You know my thoughts, now what are yours? I'd love to see them in the comments, but simply thinking of them yourself is perfectly fine.

Keep being awesome! See you next week.

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