- Morning Psalms 123; 146
- First Reading Joshua 8:1-22
- Second Reading Romans 14:1-12
- Gospel Reading Matthew 26:47-56
- Evening Psalms 30; 86
Paul has so much to say in his letter to the Romans – it would be worthy of our in-depth study in the near future…an amazing yet incredibly difficult letter! Today’s passage fits right in with this thought, “Welcome those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of quarreling over opinions.” Ending with,”So then, each of us will be accountable to God.” Proper bookends don’t you think.
What’s on Paul’s mind here? In the early church there were 2 distinct groups: Jews and Gentiles. The Jews were those who had been raised with strict dietary laws, especially concerning meat offered to idols. In Rome, most of the butcher shops were run by the pagan temples. You offered an animal sacrifice and the meat was then sold to the public in their butcher shop. The money went into the temple coffers. For practicing Jews it was like worshipping the idol itself. They also lived by a strict rule that the Sabbath was the Seventh day (or our Saturday).
Dietary laws and Sabbath protocol were nearly unknown. When they accepted Christ, they began worshipping together on the First day of the week, or Sunday, the day which coincided with Christ’s resurrection…every Sunday was a celebration of the Resurrection.
In short, there are 2 groups of individuals – each well meaning and knowledgeable – those from the old guard with a spiritual awakening and they were stirring up the newcomers – those still growing in their faith. The well established churchgoers of that day weren’t being mean spirited – they just thought they were right…the way they had always done church.
Today, things aren’t much different are they? We have those who prefer the organ over the piano. There are others whose attire on Sunday morning doesn’t “meet expectations”. There are those who like the traditional hymns and those who would prefer today’s contemporary music. I could go on but I think you get the point. The interesting observation today though regarding those of strong or weak faith is, however, not necessarily rooted in these examples.
Paul offers 3 points: (1) what people are doing, they are doing “in honor of the Lord” (14:6). Even though their practice or perspective may be off-putting to others they are nonetheless seeking by their actions to honor the Lord Jesus Christ. (2) vv7-9 tell us that Christ is Lord of all, all the time…Christ died and rose in order to bridge the most fundamental of differences. (3) Last, and maybe most important, is that one judge – God – is enough…Paul makes clear that the judgement forbidden is the judging WE do of those who do not believe like us, vote like us, dress like us, or live like us.
Finally…Paul places the passage in perspective with maybe the hardest of all summations…as we live, let us all be accountable to God…with every knee bowing to our Lord of Life…Christ Jesus – with every tongue confessing our praise to him!! Instead of using our words to despise or judge others in our fellowship, may we live harmoniously without judging and in so doing…glorifying God with one voice!!