Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Wednesday - Romans 14 - The Weak, The Strong & The Spiritual



F there is as chapter in the Bible that is most often misused, I would guess that this would be the one. The weak Christian (Romans 14:2) with his long list of rules & hypersensitive conscience takes this chapter and shakes his finger in the faces of all who live more freely; saying in essence, "Your freedom offends me, & God said that you aren't allowed to offend me, so you have to live by my standards!" The Christian with broader faith (Romans 14:22), a much shorter list of rules, & a wonderfully clear conscience takes this same chapter & excuses his own willingness to offend his weaker brothers – by openly violating their standards. Both are wrong. There is a higher standard being taught here which requires much more from both kinds of Christians. The law-keeping believer & the liberty-appreciating believer both have a real & deep obligation to consider each other in their daily decisions.

The very presence of this discussion usually upsets Christians on both sides of this issue. The weak brother is offended that he is labeled as weak. “I’m the strong Christian,” he or she thinks. “Look at all the things I don’t do. Look how strict I am! Of course I'm superior to all these lazy liberal Christians all around me." Then, the “enlightened” Christian flaunts his perceived strength; looking with disdain & with an air of ungodly superiority at those he inevitably labels as legalists. Again, both reactions are as wrong & as wicked as the Devil's pride. This chapter pushes against these exact things. Who cares which ones among us are strong & which ones are weak! We are all forgiven sinners. Paul challenges the radical-right-wing-conservative-traditionalist Christian to hold to his standards (Romans 14:23), but to do so with deep & sincere charity toward his free-spirited spiritual siblings. Again, he charges the more open-minded, moderate, (self-proclaimed) balanced-approach, liberty-loving, grace-declaring Christians to appreciate their freedom (Romans 14:22), but to be willing to surrender that same liberty in any case where they realize that they can do a kindness to their strict brothers. In other words, the whole point is that we are not actually divided. We are saved by the same Christ (Romans 14:8). We will share the same heaven. We believe the same Bible & agree fully on the crucial principles of theology, namely the gospel of Christ.

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