Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. Romans 14:1-4 (NIV)
Jesus, the more I travel the more I realize just how diverse the Body of Christ is. We see many things quite differently, sometimes to the point of critical attitudes and painful separation from one another. So I find great comfort in the last affirmation of this text morning. We will stand on the Day of Judgment, not in our “rightness” but in your righteousness. You will cause us to stand, and for this we will praise you eternally. The good work of the gospel will come to a perfect completion in each of us (Phil. 1:6). Hallelujah!
But until then, it’s often complicated. I have a fresh appreciation of the challenges Paul faced in serving the multi-cultural, poly-perspective, socially complex, theologically diverse churches of Rome. The continuum of “weak faith” and “strong faith” has never seem broader to me, and the conflicts between “meat eaters” and “non-meat eaters” are increasing.
Jesus, help us recognize the difference between disputable and indisputable matters. What is clear in the Scriptures, and what is not? The line often gets challenged, blurred or changed. I certainly realize your faithful servants will disagree about many issues until your second coming. But give us fresh humility to tremble at your Word, as the court and garden in which we will have these very important discussions. Help us steward our scruples with kindness and mutual respect.
Jesus, give us wisdom and grace for relating to those who seem to relish the role of “vocational weaker-broker”—faultfinders, conspiracy-hunters, liberty-smashers and self-appointed prosecuting attorneys in the Body of Christ. Help me know how to love them. More often, I just want to avoid and run from them.
And give us wisdom and courage for engaging friends who have turned Christian liberty into epicurean fantasies—“Eat, drink, and be merry, for we have a big gospel!” Having escaped legalism they now feel free to indulge, even over indulge in many things once considered taboo. I’m tempted to join them, Jesus, but show me… show all of us, what real gospel-freedom looks like. You are our loving Master, not our social masseur. Help us to do all things to your glory with your joy. So very Amen we pray, in your holy and healing name.