13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. 14 I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. 15 If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died. 16 Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18 because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval. 19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. 20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. 21 It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall. 22 So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves. 23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.
“Mum” said the baby fish to his mother. “I’ve heard of this stuff called water. Where can I find some?”
“You are in water my dear. Water is everywhere.” Said the mother fish
“Oh” said the baby fish. “Well, one day, I want to get out of the water and go to the ocean!” Said the baby fish.
“Well my dear, that will be hard. You see, you are already in the ocean”
“!?” Said the baby fish
The culture and worldview that I exist in are a bit like the water and the ocean, and I am a bit like that baby fish. It’s really hard to see what culture and worldview that I am immersed in, unless someone points it out, or unless I increase my attentiveness to why I do what I do, and be inquisitive about how those around me act.
In today’s passage, Paul writes to the Romans about some rules about food that seem distant to us, but really, Paul is addressing an issue of culture and worldview that couldn’t be more current.
As I read this, I realise how individualistic and selfish our culture and worldview can be. I am often swept up in this and I can act in a way that isn’t loving towards others in the way I speak, behave, or even in things that I neglect to do. Only when I am shown the issue of my actions, or if I spend time in prayer, thought and reflection, do I realise that I need to make a change to the way I treat other people.
If verse 19 says “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” I need to put the effort in to becoming more loving.
Lord, create in me a clean heart, a new heart that desires You and Your ways more than my own selfish desires. Help me not to conform to the pattern of this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of my mind in Christ Jesus!
Written by Ps Justin Ware