Romans 14: 1-12

The sense that we are learning ethical applications, in some deductive reasoning from the mythic frame, continues in this chapter about ritual religious observance 

Paul has argued already for the integrity of two options –  remain within Torah, keep kosher, bless you born into and living out of Judaism. Come within Christ, uncircumcised, bless you born gentiles and trusting this faithfulness of God 

A couple of examples are unpacked: Vegetarians –  people observing particular days. Persuasively, Paul appeals to ‘we strong’ to show restraint in shaking ‘the weak’ clinging to observances which are not necessary, but might be helpful, and permissible.

Have you participated in UCC chats about alcohol? Our movement has a strong temperance/prohibitionist heritage –  we offer a counsel of abstinence, and concede moderation…. In practice, our practice seems closer to ‘Moderation in all things, including moderation’ 

We used to be pretty strict Sabbatarians, Leading Lords Day Alliance  - and losing –  I’ll argue with you (not against you) that we lost the thread –  no, Sabbath observance is not necessary but it takes some spiritual pride to deny that one ‘needs’ it 

There are more bumper-sticker slogans here: Nobody lives to themselves…. for Christ died for this purpose… is that benign affirmation of humanism and communitarianism? We glib liberals must reject blood atonement, but must we simply dismiss the mythic frame?

1 Accept one who is weak in faith,  [but] not for decisions or opinions.   

2 The one believes to eat everything, the other who is weak eats [only] vegetables.   

3 Let the eater not despise the non-eater,  and let the non-eater not judge the eater, for God has accepted him.  

4 Who art thou to judge the servant of another?  One stands or falls [according] to his own lord;  and one shall stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.  

5 The one esteems one day above another,  the other esteems every day [as equal to every other].  Let each one be fully convinced in his own mind. 

6 One who observes the day observes it to the Lord. One who eats, eats to the Lord, for one gives thanks to God; and the one who does not eat, to the Lord one does not eat, and one gives thanks to God. 

7 For none of us lives to himself, and none dies to himself. 

8 For if we live we live to the Lord and if we die we die to the Lord. Whether we live then or whether we die we are the Lord’s. 

9 For Christ died and lived [again] for this purpose, in order that he might reign over both the dead and the living. 

10 Thou! Why doest thou pass judgment on thy brother-or-sister? Or thou!  Why dost thou despise thy brother-or-sister?  For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God.   

11 For it is written:  “As I live, says YHWH, every knee shall bow to me and every tongue shall give praise to God (Isa 45:23) 

12 So each of us will give account of himself.  

 

1  Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don't see things the way you do. And don't jump all over them every time they do or say something you don't agree with –even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department. Remember, they have their own history to deal with. Treat them gently. 

2  For instance, a person who has been around for a while might well be convinced that he can eat anything on the table, while another, with a different background, might assume all Christians should be vegetarians and eat accordingly.

3 But since both are guests at Christ's table, wouldn't it be terribly rude  if they fell to criticizing what the other ate or didn't eat? God, after all, invited them both to the table. 

4 Do you have any business crossing people off the guest list or interfering with God's welcome? If there are corrections to be made or manners to be learned, God can handle that without your help. 

5 Or, say, one person thinks that some days should be set aside as holy and another thinks that each day is pretty much like any other. There are good reasons either way. So, each person is free to follow  the convictions of conscience. 

6 What's important in all this is that if you keep a holy day, keep it for God's sake; if you eat meat, eat it to the glory of God and thank God for prime rib;  if you're a vegetarian, eat vegetables to the glory of God and thank God for broccoli.

7 None of us are permitted to insist on our own way in these matters. 

8 It's God we are answerable to – all the way from life to death and everything in between – not each other. 

9 That's why Jesus lived and died and then lived again:  so that he could be our Master across the entire range of life and death, and free us from the petty tyrannies of each other. 

10 So where does that leave you when you criticize a brother?  And where does that leave you when you condescend to a sister? I'd say it leaves you looking pretty silly - or worse. Eventually, we're all going to end up kneeling side by side in the place of judgment, facing God. Your critical and condescending ways aren't going to improve your position there one bit. 

11 Read it for yourself in Scripture:  "As I live and breathe," God says,  "every knee will bow before me;  Every tongue will tell the honest truth that I and only I am God." 

12 So tend to your knitting. You've got your hands full just taking care of your own life before God.