“I know and am convinced on the authority of the Lord Jesus that no food, in and of itself, is wrong to eat. But if someone believes it is wrong, then for that person it is wrong. And if another believer is distressed by what you eat, you are not acting in love if you eat it. Don’t let your eating ruin someone for whom Christ died. Then you will not be criticized for doing something you believe is good. For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God, and others will approve of you, too. So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up.”
Romans 14:14-19 NLT
In the Jewish practice of dietary laws, there were certain things permissible to eat and others that weren't (see Leviticus Chapter 11). In the Gentile world, practically anything was acceptable. Often, this would present a conflict within the church since both Jews and Gentiles were being converted to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Jewish converts would be offended by what Gentiles were eating. Gentiles would argue their freedom in Jesus Christ. They were both free in Jesus, but cultural, traditional, and generational practices were well entrenched. Trying to win the argument wasn't going to produce harmony. The Holy Spirit speaks to the issue through the Apostle Paul. In this scripture we see that God is more concerned about our harmony in the Spirit than our personal, traditional, cultural, and generational preservations. We tend to confuse our way of life with the truth. If what we are doing is biblically sound, then we should continue holding to it. However, if what we do is rooted in nothing more than generational culture, we must not impose our practices on those who are different than us. The more important thing, in the body of Christ, is to know and experience harmony among us. Of course this doesn't mean that we compromise the truth as it is clearly stated in Scripture. What it does mean is that we must recognize that people come from various backgrounds of life and we must respect them, even if we aren't like them. God didn't send His Son Jesus so we could make others like us. To the contrary, He sent Jesus so we could be made like Him. When we try to make others like us, we only complicate things. We must seek to be like Jesus and let Jesus make others like Himself. Leave others to Him. He can do things with them that no one else can. After all, He is God and we are not! If someone is offended by what we do, let us consider what is more important -the faith of our brother. Stop thinking of self and start thinking of others. The world is already difficult enough. We don't need to add to that burden. Let's live in such a way that others are loved, respected, and helped by the way we conduct our lives, not disgusted and repulsed by our flagrant religious arrogance.
I leave you with what Jesus said on the subject:
"Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear. “All of you listen,” he said, “and try to understand. It’s not what goes into your body that defiles you; you are defiled by what comes from your heart. ””
Mark 7:14-15 NLT
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Rev. Curtis Norris