Today’s Word from Pastor Jim…

I took the text out of context, in order to further my personal agenda, convincing my mother that eating Brussels sprouts was not a good idea. It is hard to imagine Christian people taking scripture out of context to further their agendas, but then again, I am guessing that I am not alone is this perversion.

Let’s look at the 14th Chapter of Romans as it reads in Eugene Peterson’s translation:

“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.

“For instance, a person who has been around for a while might be convinced that he can eat anything on the table, while another with a different background, might assume he should only be a vegetarian and eat accordingly. 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. 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 you.

“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.

“What’s important in all of 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. None of us are permitted to insist on our own way in these matters. It’s God we are answerable to — all the way from life to death and everything in between — not each other. 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.

“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 one bit.” – The Message, Eugene Peterson. Romans 14:1-10.

Do you get it? This text is not about a community 2,000 years ago, it is about us. Judgmental, stubborn, hypocritical Christians have been around since the beginning. Religious folks have always been quick to see the speck of sawdust in their neighbor’s eye, but unable to admit to the two by four in their own eye.

I am going to finish this series tomorrow, but for now, just go back and read the text above, one more time. Can you find yourself? Can you find compassion? Could it be that you alone have not cornered the market on truth? Could another culture, or race, or religion have something to teach us? Could the wisdom of others, born out of experiences that you have never had, formed in places where you have never been, informed by books that you have never read – could there be truth in the wisdom of others?

Until tomorrow, one day closer.
Pastor Jim