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Friday, June 12, 2015

Today’s Reading | Romans 14:13–23

Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another. I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. If your brother or sister is being injured by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. Do not let what you eat cause the ruin of one for whom Christ died. So do not let your good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. The one who thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and has human approval. Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for you to make others fall by what you eat; it is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that makes your brother or sister stumble. The faith that you have, have as your own conviction before God. Blessed are those who have no reason to condemn themselves because of what they approve. But those who have doubts are condemned if they eat, because they do not act from faith; for whatever does not proceed from faith is sin. (NRSV) 

Generally, I have a few back questions simultaneously running through my head as I read scripture: Where do I see myself in the narrative, and what is the narrative asking of me as a person of faith? Jesus spent his entire life and ministry as a living system of checks and balances to the myriad of ways that the Word functioned in the lives of the people around him. Paul’s letter to the Romans continues in this tradition. In just ten small verses, Paul throws out some of the most challenging charges to me and to all humanity. Am I acting or moving about my life in ways that help people or ways that may hurt or hinder them? Am I putting stumbling blocks or hindrances in the ways of others? Am I pursuing what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding? Am I checking in with my own faith and my convictions? And, lastly, am I acting from that faith?

Here Paul is referring to the context of Levitical laws regarding what a person could or couldn’t eat during his time. This scripture makes me think of all “the food” that I take in and put back out into the world in just a day’s time. Food that feeds and sustains us comes in many forms. As I live in this world and function as a person of faith in Chicago, nationally, and throughout the world, I need go no further than the first sentence of this scripture. It is a daunting charge, and perhaps one of the greatest gifts of advice and guidance. What could church look like when we truly consider Romans 14:13?

Gracious and loving God, may our hearts, our doors, and your table remain open to your will in this world. Amen.

Written by Mark Eldred, Coordinator for Worship and Adult Education

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