Friday, October 21, 2011

The Lordship of Christ in Gray Areas (Romans 14:1)

The Lordship of Christ in the life of the Christian is exactly the same in many areas for all Christians. In other words there are specific commands which apply to all Christians and the observance of those commands are clearly spelled out. For instance, all Christians are commanded to avoid fellowship with false teachers and their teachings (2 Corinthians 6:14-18; Second John 10); all Christians are commanded to abstain from sexual immorality (1 Thessalonians 4:3-7); and all Christians are commanded to lay aside falsehood, stealing, and unwholesome words (Ephesians 4:25-29) just to name a few.

However, there are also some areas in which the Lordship of Christ in the life of the Christian will not look the same as for other Christians. Here I am speaking of gray areas. These gray areas can be a cause for disagreement among Christians and even stumbling if not handled properly. The Bible classifies Christians as either strong or weak in faith and where a person is in his understanding of God’s Word will determine how he lives under the Lordship of Christ. This is what this section is about.

The Problem (Romans 14:1) – two opposing opinions. There are two opposing opinions among Christians because there are strong and weak Christians. The Bible says that the weak are weak in faith – literally “weak in the faith.” The weak are saved but not convinced of Christian liberty. Christ is his Lord so his motive for not doing something is loving loyalty to Christ and not legalism.

The strong in the faith are convinced of Christian liberty (Romans 14:14). Their motive for doing something is loving gratitude to Christ, knowing that what they are doing is not forbidden, and therefore they are not guilty of libertinism.

The problem is that with weak and strong Christians we have two opposing opinions or convictions. The weak genuinely believe that it is wrong to do certain things that the strong know and understand are perfectly acceptable. This may lead the weak to judge the strong as libertines and the strong to judge the weak as legalists. The text specifically says that the weak will judge the strong and that the strong will regard with contempt the weak (Romans 14:3).

The Solution (Romans 14:1). The strong are to put out the welcome matt and not the wrestling matt. The strong are not to accept or receive the weak for the purpose of passing judgment on their opinions. While the strong will want to build up the weak in the faith (Romans 14:19), he is not to attempt to do it by accepting or receiving him to straighten out his misconceptions in gray areas. Since the weak do what they do “for the Lord” (Romans 14:6-9) they are acceptable to God (Romans 14:3, 18). The strong are to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and build them up (Romans 15:1-21).

This is how the strong are to disciple the weak – “please his neighbor for his good, to his edification” (Romans 15:2). This means that the strong are not to abuse their liberty and attempt to push it down the throats of the weak. The strong are to set aside their liberties to not cause a weaker brother to stumble – not passing judgment on his opinions or deliberately indulging in liberties to try to convince the weak of Christian liberty.

The rule for both parties but especially for the strong is to walk according to love (Romans 14:15). In both cases, the weak and the strong are living under the Lordship of Christ. None of us are the Lord of another Christian and therefore we should be careful to not play God in the life of another Christian (Romans 14:4).

We should all seek to live under the Lordship of Christ remembering that each one of us will give an individual account of our lives to the Lord (Romans 14:10-12).

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