Psalm 89-90 Romans 14
“In the kingdom of God, eating and drinking are not important. The important things are living right with God, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. Anyone who serves Christ by living this way is pleasing God and will be accepted by other people.” (Romans 14:17-18 NCV)
Romans 14 is a simple passage, but very convicting. It’s convicting because so many people want to believe that their understanding of how to live as a Christian is the only way to live. Do we eat all meats, because God has created all things for our good pleasure? Do we eat “clean” foods only to honor the Law of God? Do we become vegetarians because it’s the best way to take care of our health? Do we celebrate certain days? Is a Christian supposed to honor the Sabbath or the Lord’s day, for instance? Paul makes our choices simple, though: don’t judge your brother or sister in Christ on what they eat, drink, or the days they choose to worship God. If you know your brother or sister has issues, don’t offend them or cause them to go against their conscience. The important thing is their relationship with God.
There’s an old joke about a Catholic Priest and a Baptist Preacher sitting together on a plane. They were discussing their beliefs when the flight attendant came by and asked what they wanted to drink. The preacher asked for a soda, but when the priest asked for whiskey, the preacher muttered, “I’d rather be caught dead in a house of ill-repute.” The priest lifted his eyebrows and said, “I didn’t know we had that option.” I can tell that joke because I’m one of those tee-totaling Baptists. When I came to Christ, I was on the verge of becoming an alcoholic, and part of the way God worked in me was helping me realize that I couldn’t drink alcohol. When this first happened, I was judgmental on this issue. I was almost certain that you couldn’t follow Christ and drink alcohol. God worked on me using passages like this. I still cringe a bit when I see Christians glorifying alcohol consumption, but then remind myself that God needs to be the one to work on others. What’s important in our Christian life is our relationship with God and the joy we experience as the Holy Spirit works in us. That joy we have because of our relationship with God and the love we show our brothers and sisters in Christ despite our differences is what will make a difference to people who need to know Christ. So, when you see people who claim to follow Christ, even though you have minor differences in belief, accept them, love them, and work together so that the world can see the amazing love and grace of Jesus Christ.
Oh Lord, it’s so easy to be judgmental when other Christians don’t live and believe the same way I do. Convict me when I judge instead of love. Remind me that other Christians might have reason to judge me, and help Your people live together in harmony.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved