“So then, let us pursue what promotes peace and what builds up one another.” (Romans 14:19)
The church in the New Testament can often be idealized as something to strive for. And while it’s true that there were many noble things worth mimicking in the New Testament church, it struggled with pettiness just like churches do today. One such struggle was the argument over “disputed matters” in Romans 14.
In Romans 14, Paul calls on the Roman church to welcome anyone who is “weak in faith.” What does he mean by “weak in faith”? Well, for Paul someone weak in faith is the person who’s conscience is constrained when it comes to food. A weak brother or sister “eats only vegetables” (Rom. 14:2), whereas a stronger brother or sister “may eat anything.” Weak brothers were those who saw eating meat as association with idols. Stronger brothers saw eating meat as eating unto the glory of God and thanked God for that meat. Now the idea of someone being more open to eating a certain type of food may not be a disputed matter today but there are other ways that this plays itself out. For example, there are some people who believe that Christians anywhere and everywhere must refrain from drinking alcohol while others believe that Christians may enjoy alcohol to the glory of God. Others believe esteem one day as more important than another.
The idea is not to get caught up in who’s weaker or who’s stronger although that’s what we may want to do. Paul’s main point is to “let each one be fully convinced in his own mind” when it comes down to matters of conscience. Christian’s should be less concerned about how others are living in matters where God has not given clear direction and instead be people who pursued peace. That’s his argument. Because Jesus died for our sins we don’t live for ourselves any more. We instead live for the Lord and for his glory. Therefore, instead of arguing over opinions, seek to promote peace and build up the body of Christ.
What opinions do you have that you need to lay aside so that you can build up your brothers and sisters in Christ? What areas of your life have you convinced yourself is more important than unity in the body?