Friday, January 27, 2017

How Should We Use Our Freedom in the Christian Community?

Romans 14
20 Don’t tear apart the work of God over what you eat. Remember, all foods are acceptable, but it is wrong to eat something if it makes another person stumble. 21 It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything else if it might cause another believer to stumble. 22 You may believe there’s nothing wrong with what you are doing, but keep it between yourself and God. Blessed are those who don’t feel guilty for doing something they have decided is right. 23 But if you have doubts about whether or not you should eat something, you are sinning if you go ahead and do it. For you are not following your convictions. If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning.

As Paul moves to close out his letter to the Romans, he turns to how believers should relate to each other in the body of Christ. Specifically, he is giving advice and counsel on they should handle issues like eating meat or veggies and is there a specific day of the week for worship? In the Jewish law it was forbidden to eat meat offered to idols, so Jews who had come to faith in Christ had a hard time letting go of this. Also since the Jewish believers were used worshipping on the Sabbath, which was Saturday, Paul addresses this issue as well. The Gentiles and the early church starting worshipping on Sunday, the day of Jesus' resurrection. But Paul says it really doesn't matter what day you choose to worship God.

Importantly Paul says that although you have freedom to eat meet and worship on any day of the week, you should withhold your freedom if it causes another brother or sister else to stumble. In the Christian community, we look at our personal rights in terms of how it affects our brothers and sisters in Christ. In Galatians, Paul says essentinally the same thing when he says, "Bear each others burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ." Galatians 6:2

He also says the one who is stronger in faith, should defer to a younger believer who is more sensitive to offending God. Their consciences are weaker because they so much want to please God and not sin. Paul is saying rather than judging the younger believer, we should withhold our freedom to support them, and not judge them. There is always a temptation to go back to legalism such as what to eat, or wear, or drink. But Paul says as long as what we do glorifies God and we give thanks to him for every good thing, we needn't feel guilty.

Where can you trust God in new ways not worrying so much things as eating and drinking? If it is a matter of health or addiction obviously other factors enter in. E.g. An alcoholic should not drink or someone with high cholestrol eat cheeseburgers.

Paul's main point is that we don't live unto ourselves. As he says in Philippians, "we should not only look to our own interests of others." This is how we love God by loving others and putting their interest first.

Let us live out our Christian life in freedom, and use our freedom to support each other in the body of Christ.

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