“Welcome those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of quarreling over opinions.” (Romans 14:1)
Doesn’t that paint a “charming” picture of the Christians in Rome! (I am being facetious, beloved reader.) Paul does put it pretty plainly and bluntly. Even then, I guess, there were believers who looked down with disdain on people who did not believe in the same way they did. In this instance “the weak in faith” are seen as less mature, less strong, and less developed Christians. But any difference in tenents of faith can result in one group accusing the other group of following false or inferior faith traditions. In my own denomination, this has happened, and it is a sad thing to witness.
“Some believe in eating anything, while the weak eat only vegetables. Those who eat must not despise those who abstain, and those who abstain must not pass judgment on those who eat; for God has welcomed them.” (Verses 2 – 3)
A little background. Often meat sold in the Roman market first passed through temples or places of pagan worship; offered to idols, who of course did not consume it, the meat found its way to market places and was bought “second hand”. Now this was not the way with all meat, but it happened often enough that some Christians were dubious about meat they did not the “history” of, they avoided meat at group meals. Other Christians, knowing that meat is meat as long as it has not gone bad, ate without worry. It could be and would be an interesting theological exercise to discuss the wherefores and whereas. But Paul does not parse it out, so I shall move on (although I reserve the right to take up the consideration as some future unknown date & time!).
“Who are you to pass judgment on servants of another? It is before their own lord that they stand or fall. And they will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make them stand. Some judge one day to be better than another, while others judge all days to be alike. Let all be fully convinced in their own minds.” (Verses 4 – 5)
Here again is a dividing line in this group. Some have come out of the background of Judaism and have memories of feast days and celebrations, and desire to keep these days and times, honoring. Others who do not have that background and experience mark one day the same as another and do not understand or observe such traditions and rituals.
“Those who observe the day, observe it in honor of the Lord. Also those who eat, eat in honor of the Lord, since they give thanks to God; while those who abstain, abstain in honor of the Lord and give thanks to God.” (Verse 6)
How I wish, beloved reader, that such common sense, acceptance, and compassion would transform faith circles and traditions, and then branch out through all humanity. That was actually the Divine’s intention, that faith in the Lord God and Jesus Christ would start in one place . . . and then spread.
“We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.” (Verses 7 – 9)
Can we agree, beloved reader, that the compassion, care, and acceptance that Jesus Christ modeled should be extended to all of humanity, meaning that all our peers and contemporaries should be beneficiaries of of the example set down by Christ?
“Why do you pass judgment on your brother or sister? Or you, why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall give praise to God.” So then, each of us will be accountable to God.” (Verses 10 – 12)
As I thought of how to end this post, I remembered an approach I wanted put forth whenever it came to mind – a gentle compassionate merciful belief. I think that is what Paul is calling the Christians in Rome to. And beloved reader, I commend it to you also! Shalom & Selah!