Digging in our heels…

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Romans 14:13 Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another. 14 I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. 15 If your brother or sister is being injured by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. Do not let what you eat cause the ruin of one for whom Christ died. 16 So do not let your good be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 The one who thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and has human approval. 19 Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. 20 Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for you to make others fall by what you eat; 21 it is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that makes your brother or sister stumble. 22 The faith that you have, have as your own conviction before God. Blessed are those who have no reason to condemn themselves because of what they approve. 23 But those who have doubts are condemned if they eat, because they do not act from faith; for whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.

Here the apostle Paul is helping the Roman Christians address a particular point of conflict – food. Some believed faith required more dietary restriction than others. And since the Christians held many things in common, including meals, it was a problem that needed to be dealt with. Today if you or I had issues with the menu we would simply buy our own food and not worry about it, but I suspect this was not possible for many of these Roman Christians who were poor. They had to eat what was served or not eat at all. And, as is often the case with human beings of strong conviction, people were digging in their heals on this issue. Verses that got my attention in particular are v.19-20:

19 Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. 20 Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God.

It’s not that food is unimportant, it’s just not something so important as to risk splitting the church. This is a good word for us today since we Christians often find all kinds of things to argue about.

17 For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Heavenly Father we ask you today to give us wisdom related to points of contention among Christians. Help us to realize when we’re arguing about minor things. And give us grace to reflect peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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