Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Eat meat? Drink wine? What did he mean in Romans 14
Romans 14 is one of the most amazing chapters, to me. It tells us something about today in a way that still holds true. In order to get to that point I want to give you some insight into my own spiritual journey.
For many years I was a member of a church where obedience to the word of God took a literal, fundamental stand. We had to be 'sinless' and if we were caught sinning, well weren't really saved in the first place. So for years I punished myself for every mistake I made, thinking if I were truly saved, truly a child of the King I would be able to withstand sin on my own. I'd be able to make changes in my life that were lasting, and would never be tempted again.
Then I had this startling realization. I realized that I wasn't under the law! God showed me that I didn't have to follow the law, that everything is permissible. That I could do whatever I wanted, as long as I had faith in God. So for about four years, I did just that. I drank, and I smoked, I partied, and I cussed. I watched bad television, listened to even worse music. All because I knew that I was no longer under the law.
Then God opened my eyes to something else. Something I had been missing all along. We hear it in church all the time. Faith without works is dead. Yet works do not get me anywhere? So why would I do them, I'm already saved? What is the point of works? Love. We do works not because the law tells us to, but because we Love God, and we love our neighbor. We go out and we help others, not because it increases our standing with God, but because, it's simply the right thing to do.
As Christians we should be consumed with that thought. A few years ago we had the movement of bands on your arm that said WWJD. What would Jesus do? It was a beautiful movement because it reminded us as Christians we are not under the law, but we follow the law because Jesus would!
Then one day I thought to myself, I've finally found it. I'm right! My beliefs are right, they were wrong before! Then God said to me, if someone thinks they need to eat meat... they should eat meat. I wasn't right after all but I was where God wanted me to be. I was growing in faith. As is everyone else. You see I grew up being taught that the Catholic church was an abomination. That people there followed Mary as God, and worshiped Saints!
God brought a catholic into my life. She was a beautiful woman, with three beautiful children. She had this faith that kept her from needing to ask the questions I was always asking. She asked saints to pray for her, much like she would ask me to pray for her. It was a beautiful thing that taught me a lesson about judging someones faith.
It's all about faith, you know? God gave Abraham righteousness, not because he was circumcised, not because he attended church, not because he did this or that.. You see Abraham was the first and God was teaching him as he went. He started out with just faith, and God counted that as righteousness! The same with you and I! It is still about faith, faith in Christ! However, if saying a rosary brings you closer to God then by all means say the rosary! If staying at home and having your own communion brings you closer to God, then by all means do it!
You see God doesn't want you to come to him being forced into a mold, he'll mold you himself. He knows where your faith is and what you can handle. He knows where mine is as well. He even wants me to do things that encourage your faith, that help build you up. Arguing about whether or not we should interpret the Bible the same or receive the same revelations doesn't edify, it tears down. Do not force someone to give up their meat, or give up their wine, or not to marry.. because that's not the what we are taught! Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him.
We could easily rewrite that, Let not him that prays the rosary, pray him that does not; and let not him which does not pray the rosary, judge him that does.. because God has received him.
God chooses who goes to heaven, not us. If someone loves Jesus, gives his life to him, believes that through him he will be saved. We are supposed to be one body, one family in Christ. Let's stop arguing over the things that divide us and remember the one Truth that cements us as a family.
So when was I right? At what point did I find authentic faith? You see I was right the entire time. It was a spiritual journey, meant for me. My faith the entire time was placed directly in God. Keep your faith there, and he will lead you on your own journey. He will show you what is right to believe, and what YOU are supposed to believe and when. We grow in Christ, not into.
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