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Archive for December, 2011

Whose Convictions Live By If Disagree?

A misunderstanding of Romans 14 has provoked anxiety for Christians in how they should treat their fellow Christians when having different convictions about amoral activities. God wants us to feel free in Christ, rather than in bondage, so Paul advises one best live according to their own convictions. Some Christians feel you shouldn’t drink alcohol and other Christians feel the freedom to drink as long as avoiding drunkenness. Some Christians have certain convictions how Sundays should be observed both now and in Paul’s times.

In this passage the weak are the Jewish Christians who felt personally obligated to still live under certain Jewish dietary laws they had grown up with. Paul doesn’t condemn their belief but simply advises how Gentile and Jewish Christians can live in peace with one another. It seems the main points of Paul’s message are: accept one another whether your convictions allow certain freedoms or require certain restrictions (1-4); live according to your own convictions with God to be truly content (5-9); stop judging one another’s personal convictions with God (10-12).

Christian can’t always avoid offending others. Jesus didn’t go out of His way to offend, but Jesus confronted at times and did not live under the slavery of the opinion of others. Jesus frequently reprimanded the Pharisees for their misguided emphasis on rules and obedience rather than a relationship and God’s unconditional love. The Pharisees were only serving themselves for status reasons in society.  The Pharisees’ self righteousness obscured their need for God’s grace. By the way grace doesn’t lead to more sin but less sin when understanding God’s amazing love for us.

The weaker, who did not eat certain foods and the stronger, must not judge one another. (vs3-4) Christians are ultimately accountable to God and not each another. No Christian, regardless of their convictions, should condemn one another. Christians must allow each other to make their own choices. Both the weaker and the stronger should not badger one another to become like them. This is creating a stumbling block for one another in their relationship with God.

I feel freedom in my relationship with God, so I wish Paul had badgered the weak to get over their stupid rules and live under God’s grace than law. I am not encouraging orgies and drunken feasts but can’t others stop making up human rules that are not explicit in Scriptures? But, the rest of the chapter seems to encourage those who feel free to act in peace with the weaker brother. (vs13-23)  It doesn’t matter who is right and who is wrong. Love one another as best you can. This may mean when eating with others you abide by certain rules. You certainly don’t constantly harass your brother or sister to accept your convictions against this own. It isn’t always easy. It seems the weaker are always trying to impose upon others, which Paul disagreed with as well.

Paul’s main message is obviously peace concerning differences over amoral matters. Is food more important than spiritual matters? Christians must allow one another to follow their own personal convictions. Christians certainly should not badger non-Christians to abide by their personal convictions. People of all faiths or no faith can surely agree on moral law. It is not true that you should never do sometime to offend someone. Jesus healed on the Sabbath. It may be wise to give up freedom sometimes to promote unity but never give into legalists who insist on rules for people to obey rather than a relationship with the Creator.  In Gal 2: 11-21 Paul reprimanded Cephas for worrying about what people thought and trying to appease Jewish Christians.

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