God is Setting All Things Right. So I am Blogging Through the Bible in a Year.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

December 11 - Romans 14-16: Don't Judge Others Based on Your Beliefs

Today’s Reading: Romans 14-16

The Message

English Standard Version

Only three weeks to go! You've almost made it! Keep going!

Thought to Guide Your Reading

Paul wants to make sure the Roman Christians get along by not judging the other according to their own beliefs.

Summary in 100 Words or Less

Tolerate and don't criticize Believers who think differently than you. Jesus is our Master. Whatever you do, do it for God not yourself. Share God's Life.
Help anyone you can. Then we will all sing with one voice—outsiders and insiders together!
Please do not think I am criticizing you. I'm proud of God's Work through me.
Pray my travel and work in Jerusalem goes well.
The churches of Christ greet everyone.
Watch for those who are too selfish to work with. Stay alert.
All praise to God who brings the truth to the world. Praise to Jesus!

How Today’s Reading Contributes to the Gospel: God is Setting All Things Right

Disagreements about religion are okay.

What a liberating passage! We don't have to agree on everything! We don't really need to agree on much! What is important is that we do what we do because we believe it is right, not because someone else forces us to do it. It's not what we eat that God cares for. I would also suggest it's not how we sing or worship God that God cares for, either. God wants us to do things that set things right. We cannot set things right if we violate our conscience. So Paul's instructions were to do as we believe, "each person is free to follow the convictions of conscience" (14:5, The Message). We will be judged by God, not by each other.
I am very disappointed that I never learned this passage when growing up. The churches of Christ are known for doing just the opposite of this. We argue over so many small details about how to live a Christian life. Jesus died to "free us from the petty tyrannies of each other" (14:11). I needed to know that.

Everything is holy unless we treat or talk about it in an unholy way.

It is this part of Paul's argument which all churched and unchurched people need to remember. Churched people should realize we have more rules than we need but those rules are not superfluous. They help us. Unchurched people should realize these rules are not wrong but they are not required to follow them. Each can do as they want—as long as they are setting things right. We should treat each other with love, not judgment.

Fights do not stop us from being God's Chosen People.

After all Paul has against the Jews and Gentiles in Rome, he wants to make sure they do not take him the wrong way. He is proud of their faith because it reflects well on God and the work God does through Paul. We should also remember, even through our petty fights over religion and our judgments of each other, God continuously wants to work through us. We are always God's Chosen People.

Be wary of people who only use pieces of truth for their own gain.

Paul's warning was something I struggled with when contemplating this project. I did not want to force every passage into my narrow focus and become what he is warning against; however, I wanted to do this project because I knew this idea of God setting all things right went throughout the entire Bible. I do not think I have had to "force" passages into a narrow tunnel.
Not all people have that plan, though. They want to take a small detail and make it sound like the entire Message of God. The way to tell if a person is doing this is to read the entire Bible. They are mostly likely running away from some passage they don't want to study. Stay away from people like that!

Do you judge each other or help each other set things right?

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