So here I was tonight, cruising along, reading Romans 14, understanding what Paul is talking about here in regards to eating or not eating certain stuff. I was imagining what the Jewish Christians in Rome must have thought to see a Gentile Christian chowing down on a pork chop or something. I’m tracking with him when he admonishes the ones who don’t eat not to judge those who do. He warns those who do eat not to belittle those who don’t. It’s a pretty vanilla chapter for a 21st Century Christian. Don’t pass judgment… don’t belittle… don’t do anything that would cause a brother or sister to stumble… I’m reading, and tracking, wondering what I’m going to write about tonight when… BAM!! (Or as Nick would say, “KA-BLOOEY!!”): the very last verse of the chapter explodes onto the scene and really makes me think.
And it occurs to me that Paul is saying something like, “Eating something is not the point… whether you eat or abstain, it’s still sin for you if you don’t do it from faith.” I am reminded of what Paul means by “faith” here… We’re talking the faith of Abraham and the faith of Jesus here. The faith that is reckoned as righteousness. The faith that trusts the unseen.
And I find myself humbled by that verse… Personally, in my family, and in the church. How much of what we do in our life could we say doesn’t proceed from faith? How many places do we, maybe without even thinking about it, slide into the driver’s seat and call the shots without even thinking about what the faithful action would be? The answer to that question scares me a little… because it narrows for me the places in our lives where we are still compartmentalized. It brings into focus yet again the idea of holiness of heart and life… that God wants to sanctify all of me, not just part, so that everything I do proceeds from faith.