S: Romans 14:1-23
Welcome all the Lord's followers, even those whose faith is weak. Don't criticize them for having beliefs that are different from yours. Some think it is all right to eat anything, while those whose faith is weak will eat only vegetables. But you should not criticize others for eating or for not eating. After all, God welcomes everyone. What right do you have to criticize someone else's servants? Only their Lord can decide if they are doing right, and the Lord will make sure that they do right.
Some of the Lord's followers think one day is more important than another. Others think all days are the same. But each of you should make up your own mind. Any followers who count one day more important than another day do it to honour their Lord. And any followers who eat meat give thanks to God, just like the ones who don't eat meat.
Whether we live or die, it must be for God, rather than for ourselves. Whether we live or die, it must be for the Lord. Alive or dead, we still belong to the Lord. This is because Christ died and rose to life, so that he would be the Lord of the dead and of the living. Why do you criticize other followers of the Lord? Why do you look down on them? The day is coming when God will judge all of us. In the Scriptures God says,
“I swear by my very life
that everyone will kneel down
and praise my name!”
And so, each of us must give an account to God for what we do.
We must stop judging others. We must also make up our minds not to upset anyone's faith. The Lord Jesus has made it clear to me that God considers all foods fit to eat. But if you think some foods are unfit to eat, then for you they are not fit.
If you are hurting others by the foods you eat, you are not guided by love. Don't let your appetite destroy someone Christ died for. Don't let your right to eat bring shame to Christ. God's kingdom isn't about eating and drinking. It is about pleasing God, about living in peace, and about true happiness. All this comes from the Holy Spirit. If you serve Christ in this way, you will please God and be respected by people. We should try to live at peace and help each other have a strong faith.
Don't let your appetite destroy what God has done. All foods are fit to eat, but it is wrong to cause problems for others by what you eat. It is best not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything else that causes problems for other followers of the Lord. What you believe about these things should be kept between you and God. You are fortunate, if your actions don't make you have doubts. But if you do have doubts about what you eat, you are going against your beliefs. And you know that is wrong, because anything you do against your beliefs is sin.
O: In Galatians 4:10-11, Paul tells us that there really no special days, yet here he tells the Romans “Some of the Lord's followers think one day is more important than another. Others think all days are the same. But each of you should make up your own mind. Any followers who count one day more important than another day do it to honour their Lord.” So what's the deal with that?
A: There truly are some things which are right and wrong, but being right or wrong about these secondary matters is not as important as being flexible and being able to keep fellowship in spite of the disagreements.
We are all imperfect, and our understanding of scripture, God and the world is imperfect. So we must leave room for other believers to disagree with us about secondary matters, even while recognizing that someone might be factually wrong.
I used to be an anti-Charismatic Bible-literalist Evangelical who held all kinds of prejudices against Pentecostals, Catholics, Calvinists and various other kinds of Christians. But God brought me into contact with many Pentecostals, Catholics, Calvinists and various other kinds of Christians who demonstrated a true faithfulness to Jesus and a genuine desire to follow Him. Over the years, I have had to drop these prejudices and recognize them as my brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ.
I have more in common with people committed to following Jesus from other denominations than with people in my own denomination who are just "Sunday Christians".
One pastor I have had in the past like to say, "We can agree to disagree agreeably". That's a good thing to keep in mind!
P: Father, Jesus prayed that we Christians may be one even as You and Jesus are one. I echo that prayer. In Jesus' name, amen.
This old Indonesian Christian song to the tune of "Red River Valley" exemplifies this sentiment:
Translation of the lyrics:
I don't care what church you're from
As long as you stand upon His Word
When your heart is like my heart
You're my brother and my sister
Here's a nice rendition of the same song in Bahasa Batak:
Note: this is using the SOAP method. For more information, see this page (not written by me.)