Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Year 8, Day 37: Romans 14

Theological Commentary: Click Here

I love the fact that Paul puts this passage immediately following his section about how we should live in love. If we are living in love, then we should be thinking about the other person ahead of ourselves.  We should be able to live with our differences, accept God’s gifts in each other, and stand with Christ who unites us.

For example, here are some unique ways that I bring faith into my life.
  • I don’t wear white as a reminder that one day after the resurrection I will be given a white robe cleansed in the blood of Christ.  Much like the singer Johnny Cash, so long as I look around and see the evidence of sin in my life and the world around me, I won’t wear white as a devotional reminder of the fallen world in which I live.
  • I don’t close my eyes when I pray.  I used to, and I found that my ADD very quickly took over and before long I wasn’t even hearing the words being said.  Then, I heard someone challenge me by asking why I closed my eyes and bowed my head when I pray.  I told them that I do it out of respect for God.  They told me they pray with their head held high and their eyes to the sky, looking for the Son whenever He should return.  I kind of liked the thought, so I tried it.  Now I pray looking up to the sky now.  The upside is that the visual helps keep my ADD in check and I can focus on what’s being said far more easily!
  • I never say the name of God that contains the letters YHWH.  I don’t do it because of Jewish tradition.  In the ancient world of Abraham, Moses, David, and Isaiah you only used someone’s personal name if you had power and position over them.  I never say the name of God as a reminder that He is God, I am not.  I don’t have power over Him, and I don’t say the name of God as a way of reminding myself of that fact.

The reality is that there are more things than that in my life, those are just the easy examples to lift up.  Here’s the neat thing about that list of expressions of faith.  Salvation doesn’t hinge upon any of the things in that list.  I can be a follower of God and do those things; other people can be a follower of God and not do those things.  These aren’t things that make me better; they are ways that my faith is enhanced within me.  I don’t feel the need to get offended by those who don’t do what I do.  We are all created unique in God’s image, who am I to say that other people must look like me and live out their faith like I do?

That’s what Paul is talking about here when he says to not judge one another.  That’s what he means by not being a stumbling block.  One genuine expression of my faith need not offend another, and another’s genuine expression of their faith need not offend me. 

On the other hand, if I know something offends another person and I continue to do it in their presence, then shame on me!  In that case I am not expressing myself, I am throwing myself into their path and forcing myself to be a stumbling block.  That’s a very dangerous proposition to make.  It’s one thing to express my faith according to God’s uniqueness.  It’s another thing to intentionally offend.  As Paul says, we should do everything in our power to lead one another to peace, not offend one another.

Of course, it is worth saying that there are a few things that are unable to be compromised.  Jesus is the only way to salvation, and my salvation rests solely upon Him.  God is our creator, and we will one day live with Him by His grace.  He is the source of all that is good within me and within the world.  I should be actively looking for and repenting of the sin in my life.  I’m sure there are a few others that could be added to this list, but those are the pretty big ones.  Those are the things that bind us together in unity.