Thursday, May 18, 2017

A New Devotion on Cove's Prayer Line - An Alternative to Judging and Despising

Below is a new devotion I just left on the Cove Presbyterian Church prayer line. You can find a recording of this devotion on the prayer line (1-304-748-7900) or on the Cove Presbyterian Church Podbean page. You might also want to visit the congregational website (covepresbyterian.org) for more church information.

If you find this meaningful, please consider sending an offering directly to Cove Presbyterian Church, 3404 Main Street, Weirton, West Virginia or through PayPal.

Romans 14:1-12

Welcome those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of quarreling over opinions. Some believe in eating anything, while the weak eat only vegetables. Those who eat must not despise those who abstain, and those who abstain must not pass judgment on those who eat; for God has welcomed them. Who are you to pass judgment on servants of another? It is before their own lord that they stand or fall. And they will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make them stand.

Some judge one day to be better than another, while others judge all days to be alike. Let all be fully convinced in their own minds. Those who observe the day, observe it in honor of the Lord. Also those who eat, eat in honor of the Lord, since they give thanks to God; while those who abstain, abstain in honor of the Lord and give thanks to God.

We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. 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. For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.

Why do you pass judgment on your brother or sister? Or you, why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written,
     “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,
          and every tongue shall give praise to God.”
So then, each of us will be accountable to God.

An Alternative to Judging and Despising

Image result for listening
In my experience, it seems as though Christians often drift in one of two different directions, both of which are understandable, even Biblical, but also have some real negatives consequences. I mean, on one hand, there are plenty of believers who appreciate the importance of obedience, and because of that, they construct systems of rules and laws for the faithful to follow. And those who don’t, you know, don’t follow the rules, well, they’re judged to be less than faithful. Now that’s what’s on one hand. On the other hand, though, there are others who praise God for the freedom that he offers, and they resist any attempt to restrict or restrain their experiences of faith. And if this kind of attempt is made, then they tend to despise and mock those legalists who are seen as servants of the law. Now, those are the two sides, and while both are reflected in Scripture, both also cause fissures and fractures within the Body of Christ.

But this issue is certainly not new to us. It must have been happening in the Roman church that received Paul’s letter, because in the passage we read, the apostle wrote about not judging or despising one another. And even though he didn’t mention it, I think we have an alternative that we can claim. You see, instead of indulging our particular version of faith, we can decide to listen. In other words, those who focus on obedience can listen to the freedom we enjoy in Christ. And those who believe they’re free in Christ, they can listen to why some believers feel that laws and rules enhance their faith. You see, regardless of which direction we drift, we can always claim this alternative.

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