My husband and I once shared a meal with new friends, Pakistani Muslims who live in London. As you can imagine, there was a huge variety of entrees at our table. A lively discussion ensued about our cultures. We discussed dress, healthcare, our beliefs about multigenerational households and, of course, the God we worship. We didn’t agree with them on everything they believed, especially when it came to faith. But at the end of the meal, we left with an invitation to visit them in London and a mutual respect for the things we most value in our individual lives.
- How do you handle debates about faith and religion where there are many differences of opinion?
READ THE WORD: ROMANS 14:1-12 (ESV)
14:1 As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions.2 One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. 3 Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. 4 Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
5 One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.6 The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7 For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself.8 For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. 9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.
10 Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; 11 for it is written,
“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,
and every tongue shall confess to God.”
12 So then each of us will give an account of himself to God
English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
- Who are the “weak” Paul mentioned? What made them weak? Identify some of the beliefs Paul mentioned that are debatable.
- What is the central attitude Paul encouraged in this passage?
- According to verse 9, how does the life and death of Christ resolve the Great Debate about personal beliefs?
- What judgments are you tempted to make of others and their patterns of personal faith?
RESPOND TO GOD
It doesn’t matter to God whether our church holds worship services on Saturday evenings or Sunday mornings. Nor does it matter to him if we are vegetarians and choose to eat Tofurkey (tofu turkey) or Butterball for Thanksgiving. In some cases, it is the attitude not the activity that matters. What matters most to God is that we give him thanks, worship him, and confess him to be the one true God. He’s more concerned about our righteousness than our rituals, and we’ll each have to give an account about how we live our lives and what we believe..
- Ask God to help you honor the Lord in all you do, think, and say today.
- Pray for the salvation of any friends who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.