Well this week we finish our sermon series looking at Romans, I must say Romans has been challenging and has also thrown up so very hard questions about our walk of faith.
And this week we are looking at Romans 14: 1-8, titled Different needs, one Lord.
But first lets pray, Open our ears, O Lord, to hear your word and know your voice. Speak to our hearts and strengthen our wills, that we may have soft hearts and open ears for your word. Amen.
And Lord, for myself, may my words be your words not my own, Amen
Please open your Bibles at Romans chapter 14, verse 1 and remember this is the Apostle Paul writing to the new believers in Rome and we read, ‘Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarrelling over disputable matters.
2 One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables.’
Ok two people the both believe that Jesus is there Lord and saviour, they both agree that God is a trinity, that He is God the Farther God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. But almost at that point what they have in common stops, they don’t like each other’s style of church, the don’t understand each overs service. And they don’t like the way they each do communion.
Paul is not saying hear that vegetarians are weak it is a Synonym, an alterative expression.
I have a very good friend who is a devout Roman Catholic, now we got on from the first time we meet some eight or nine years ago, his name is John, but with me coming from an evangelical charismatic background and him being as I said a Roman Catholic, there were some differences, and me being me, I would wind him up about some of them and he would get pretty angry and when I noticed I had gone to far and he was pretty well ranting at me I would say , John, John, what he would say in a tone that was full of despair, John I would say who is your Lord and saviour, and he would say Jeesusss, gritting his teeth, I done this to him a few times and he would always full for it and just before I stopped he would say you done it again haven’t you.
Jesus is our Lord and saviour, many of you have heard me say this in the past, that come the day when we stand before our Lord and saviour those of us who have not been cast aside, I think Jesus will look at the mass of people and sadly shake His head and say I only let you two instructions to love the Lord your God and to Love one another, and to follow me, I did ask you to tell the world and to baptise all who believe, and Jesus may say how did you manage to make so many factions even within the different groups there are different factions, and Jesus may look at us and shake his head in sadness.
And in our reading in verse 3 we read The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. 4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.
Now that is a good slide for me because I could not eat any of that as it will make me ill, and others like Messianic Jews would not eat shell fish either.
Paul is clarifying his thinking about food and festivals for Christians who do not know him, and who may have heard that he “went off on one” at Peter for withdrawing from eating with gentiles non Jews in Galatians 2:11-14 Paul also voiced strong opposition to the Galatians observing “special days, and months, and seasons, and years” (Galatians 4:10). The advice Paul offers here is calmer and more considered in tone.
If we did not know the Galatians passages, it would be easy to read Romans 14 and think, “Food and festivals: so what?” Here in our reading Paul offers the advice that people should welcome one another and not judge different convictions. Good advice, we think, but do we follow it
Most of us would hardly notice it if someone labelled a few dishes “vegetarian” at the church bring and share. Reading the Romans text in isolation might lead us to conclude it had little to say to churches that are struggling with church-dividing issues today many on how to do church, who to welcome.
Yet Galatians makes it clear that, at least in one context, these apparently inconsequential issues threatened both the church and the gospel. Ten years or so before Paul wrote Romans, food and festivals were huge issues.
A decade or so later, the apostle who was aggressive when writing to the Galatians can, in the context of his letter to Rome, encourage readers to welcome one another across different opinions and practices on the same issues.
Why the change? Paul does not imagine that anyone among the Christians in Rome is requiring certain Jewish practices related to food and other things, such as circumcision. By contrast, in Galatia, the teachers who followed Paul did seem to be requiring these things.
It is probably also true that no one in Rome is attempting to substitute the observance of days or abstinence from eating meat for following Jesus, while opinion and practice related to clean/unclean food and the correct observances of days had at least in Paul’s opinion reached that level in Galatia.
So the question that Romans 14 answers seems to be something like this: “When no one is claiming another Saviour another God besides Jesus or leaning on a source of righteousness besides the righteousness of Jesus, and yet the church disagrees, what do we do?” And the answer Paul gives is to welcome one another (14:1) and to put up with each other’s failings (15:1). Actually, he tells the strong to behave this way toward the weak, but his words still resonate with both sides, for who on either side of any debate does not imagine themselves to be the strong and their opponents to be the people who just don’t “get it” yet?
In verse 5 and 6 we read - One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. 6 Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God.
Paul provides three reasons for the advice to bear with those who think and act differently from oneself on matters of belief and practice. First, what people are doing, they are doing “in honour of the Lord” (14:6). Even though their practice may seem silly or just plain wrong to others of the same faith, when people eat or abstain, when they observe a day or ignore it, they are nonetheless seeking by their actions to honor the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul’s second reason is related to the first. Christians bear with one another not only because all are trying by their actions to honour Christ but also because Christ is, in fact, Lord of all, all the time. Even if verses 1-6 seems to be discussing trivial things, verses 7-9 do not. 7 For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. 8 If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. 9 For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.
We read in verse 10 You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister[a]? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. 11 It is written: “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’” 12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.
Jesus died and rose in order to create community across all differences: Jew/Greek, slave/free, dead/living!
Paul’s third reason for bearing with those whose practice differs from ours is that God is judge of all of us, and one judge is enough. We are not judges of each other. In our culture, this text, as well as Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount, “Do not judge, so that you may not be judged” (Matthew 7:1), are often taken to mean that all behaviour is equally ethical, but neither text says such a thing.
The judgment forbidden in Romans 14 and Matthew 7 is the easy, contemptuous dismissal of those who do not believe like us. They are fools, we think, and we see no contradiction between our being Christian and our despising of them (cf. Romans 10b).
Paul says no to such loathing, as Jesus had. In Romans 14:17-19, Paul offers his alternative vision of Christian community. In verse 17, Paul observes, “For the Kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” With the gifts of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Spirit, the church can abide a lot of differences over many other things.
What gives any of us the right to tell someone else that church should be like this or like that what we are called to do is worship God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, we are not called to say do it my way it is the right way. I meet a man who told me that when his little church closed down in Northern Ireland, he went to over twenty church to find the right one and he could not find one, then he said a friend asked him what was the common denominator, and he realised it was him, he also realised that nothing is perfect and that he was called to worship God not the service, so he stayed at the last one.
What should church look like, it looks like us we are the body of Christ.
We can worship God on our own. In our families. In small groups, In congregations. All are important and helpful in different ways. The Bible says in Psalm 35;18 I will give you thanks in the great assembly; among the multitudes I will praise you. We who call ourselves Christians are told not to give up meeting with others Paul says in Hebrews 10 25 do not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another. History teaches us that when believers stop meeting together their faith begins to go cold.
We should never discourage others from worshiping God and we should worship God with our whole hearts, Matthew Porter said ‘ I have noticed that some worshippers in some churches seem to get rather disinterested after a few minutes of worshiping. He says if they were married, I hope they don’t get similarly bored after a few minutes of telling their spouse how much they love them.’
If that’s you may have a big shock when you go to heaven. We should give worship to God, the Bible says a lot about how we should come into God’s house, and remember that is what this place is God’s house not mine not yours but Gods, the bible says that we should rejoice, clap, dance, shout, extol which means praise enthusiastically, it says we should kneel and adore / love our good Father.
God’s church should be a place of life not death, God gave us life, we should worship him with all we have. God loves us doing this, He does not need us to do it, he will still be God. We should all be passionate in our worship.
Always remember God loves each one of us, not all of us worship by clapping and dancing and we should love each other as we all have different needs but we all have the one Lord, and that Lord loves each of us, so much that God the Son came to ensure that each one of us can come to Him if we choose.
Never forget that God is love and he loves each one of us, we are called to worship the Father Son and Holy Spirit, we all have different needs but there is only one Lord and that is out trine God. Our three in one God.