“Wrestling With Romans”
As Unto the Lord (Chapter 14 Verses 1-12)
The idea of a Church that is totally uniform is destroyed here (vv5-8). The life of the Church just isn’t like that. Paul speaks here about sacred days (v5), how many arguments have there been over Sabbath keeping, and how the Sabbath should or shouldn’t be kept. You don’t watch television on Sunday and don’t think that anyone else should, or you don’t allow your children to play ball in the back garden on Sunday. So therefore no one else should either. Well you may be fully convinced in your own mind, good. Well, kindly allow others to use, and be convinced, in their own minds too. What you do, do it to the Lord, and not before the Church, or anyone else (v6). You abstain from something legitimate for discipline reasons, good (v6b), give thanks and do it likewise to the Lord. But you have no Biblical warrant to lay your discipline on anyone else. And if you allow people to bind you with their rules, then you have just given up your freedom. There are far too many Christians who feel compelled to lay burdens upon others that they are not able to bear, too many who are only too willing to use their religion to bruise other people, and woe betide you if you don’t conform. That is not the gospel. You live and die before the Lord (vv6-7), but how many Christians, and Churches, actually do live before the Lord? How many live in fear of others, spend their lives looking over their shoulders, wondering, fearing what others are thinking about what they’re saying or doing? Is that the freedom Christ died to purchase for you? I mean who do you belong to? Man or God (v8b)? If you want to stay free you will have to fight to do so, and if that’s not worth fighting for then Calvary means nothing to you.
Jesus actually died and rose again in order that he, and he alone, might be your Lord, not men and women (vv9-12). So when you allow others to put you in chains you’ve just sold out on his Lordship, you can no longer say, Jesus is Lord. Further, if you believe in God’s just judgment, can you not leave others to stand or fall before him (vv10-11), or have you decided to do the judging in his place? You think you’d do a better job? What you do or don’t do is none of my business, it’s God’s, it’s to him you’ll give account (v12), and if we all lived more in the light of that Biblical fact, we’d have a lot less to say, and we’d be a lot kinder to one another. Who knows, we might even be able to live together.
(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1997)