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  • A quick reminder, Paul's is writing this letter to the Jews and Gentiles who are believers in Rome. He is trying to get the two groups to understand that the coming of Messiah has opened the way to salvation for all who believer, regardless of custom or background. While this is a recurring theme in Paul's letters, he is more specific here than in other letters, probably because of the added pressure by the Jews in Rome to keep the authorities from coming down on their community.

    If we are believers in Christ, we share the same foundation: Faith.

    Each of us honors God in the way we understand Him, so do not argue over which way is best. Many believe it is acceptable to eat all things; others believe some foods are forbidden.

    Do not judge one another for what you choose to eat or drink. Would you question the actions of another man's servant when he is doing the will of his master? The servant must obey the master, and therefore only the master can judge him.

    Some of you keep one day as the Sabbath, others believe every day to be a Holy Day. Honor your faith and allow others to honor theirs. Look beyond the differences among you to see the truth of each man's witness. If we are Christians, we honor the Lord in our actions, not in our words alone.

    We no longer live for ourselves, but for our Lord and Master, Jesus, who has given us the Holy Spirit so we may follow Him. This is why Jesus died and rose again, so He would be the Lord of the living and the dead.

    Knowing He is the judge of all mankind, what sense does it make to judge the faith of another? What good will it do to make an enemy of your brethren? In the end, we will all stand before God to give an accounting of our lives.

    In Isaiah, it is written, “every knee shall bow, every tongue will confess, for I am God.”.

    God is our judge, so we have no right to judge one another. When we judge, we build walls between us where none should be, and we sin, and we cause our brethren to sin.

    For me, I believe the Lord has removed the old ways in favor of the new. Nothing is unclean to eat unless you believe it is, and if you do, then for you it is unclean.

    But do not judge another because he eats what you do not. Respect his beliefs, as you would want him to respect yours. Never let unbelievers see you bickering like children among one another.

    The kingdom of God is not food or drink. The kingdom of God is righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. As long as your witness serves our Lord, Jesus, it is acceptable before God, and before men.

    So let us choose to find the good in one another, those things which make peace between us and encourage us to give good service to our Lord.

    Food and drink do not destroy the works of God. All things are pure, but to the man who believes they are not, he should not be asked to partake of them.

    Do not try to tempt a brother or sister away from their beliefs. What God has told you is pure is pure so long as you have faith. The man who eats what he believes to be impure to satisfy his brethren condemns himself before God, for he has not eaten from faith, and what is not of faith is of sin.

    Don't sweat the small stuff!

    This may seem a little off the deep end, but you have to remember there are still Orthodox Jews who refuse to eat anything but a kosher diet. They believe the dietary restrictions found in the Old Testament to be in effect and that God has forbidden certain foods from being eaten. That is their faith, and as long as it is, so be it.

    When I read this particular chapter, I often wonder how many churches ever really focus on this. Way back in the 1980's, a brother named David Hart and I began a ministry in San Diego County to promote and encourage “contemporary” Christian music and musicians. We would arrange performances, promote concerts, and encourage performers and audiences to attend events where new musicians were playing. We often sponsored “free” concerts in several of the parks throughout the county that would last up to 12-14 hours, giving new and established musicians a chance to spread the word through their music.

    Now every time we sponsored a concert, we would make sure the local churches were given plenty of notice. Why? Well, first of all we wanted people to know the music was available, but there was another reason. At the end of every concert, we would feature a local minister who would deliver a brief, uplifting sermon and then invite those who wanted to either commit their lives to Christ or recommit themselves to the front. We had volunteers to pray with them and mini New Testaments to hand out, but a new believer needs more than a Howdy and a Handshake. They need a church home, somewhere to go to learn more about becoming a Christian.

    And strangely, that was a real problem. You see, the Methodists wouldn't come if the Baptists were going to be there, the Calvinists didn't want to be at the same meeting with the Mennonites, and the Lutherans wanted exclusive rights to all new converts. It was very frustrating trying to deal with the churches, especially since we were trying to add to their congregations.

    So I guess food and drink aren't the only area of dispute. Some churches have communion every Sunday, others only on special days. Some folks pray the “Lord's Prayer” with the word “trespass”, others use the word “debt”. I can go on and on about the differences, but aren't these the things we are supposed to be ignoring in order to create a Christian community?

    As a Christian, I am required to live my life by faith, not by the doctrines of a particular organization. Which makes the Bottom Line here the same as the one Paul started with.

    If we are believers in Christ, we share the same foundation: Faith.

    Everything else is embellishment, isn't it?

    I hope you are having a blessed day.

    Fred.
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