Today’s Reading: Romans 15:1-22
There is no doubt in my mind that learning to live together as a family is one of the most important assignments God has given us on this earth. Family relationships provide the foundation for the way we relate to other people in school, at work, and in our neighbourhood.
In any congregation, you have a mix of people, some who have been here for a long time, some for a short time. When Paul wrote to the churches in Rome, the question was not how long people had been there, but how they applied their faith to their situation. If you read Chapter 14, you see that the biggie had to do with whether or not to eat meat. This had nothing to do with eating at the most popular steakhouse in town. But it did have something to do with the pagan religion some of them had come from. In that religion, worshipers offered meat to idols. Some of it the priests ate. Some of it found its way to the meat market. So, new Christians, who gave up offering meat to idols, found themselves facing a dilemma. What if the meat they bought at the market had been offered to idols? They were serving Christ now, not those idols, so they thought it was wrong to eat that meat. And since there was no way of knowing which meat was which, they decided not to eat meat at all.
At the same time, there were those who had come to the church by a different route. And they said, “Christ has given us freedom from such problems. After all, God has created everything and God is over everything. Those idols do not really exist. Just thank God and eat your meat.” Their faith was strong enough to overcome this problem. But it wasn’t that easy for these new Christians.
So if you are one with a strong faith, do you eat the meat or do you not? The principle Paul lays down is, “If, by eating meat, you offend a weak Christian, then don’t eat it.”
Today we don’t have that problem, but the need to consider each other is still there. As Paul says in Romans 14, we don’t live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. The decisions we make, the actions we take, affect the rest of the family. Now some people might object and say, “Hey, wait a minute. That’s not fair. Does that mean we always need to give in to those who are weak in faith?” Just hang on. We aren’t finished yet. The question is, “Are we developing the habit of living our life of faith with an eye to the faith of others in the family of God?”