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by | Sep 19, 2023 | Judging, Love

“As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written, ‘As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God.’ So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.”

(Romans 14:1-12 ESV)

There are some things in the Christian faith that are set down for us clearly by God: The fact that Jesus died for us and rose from the dead, for one. The Commandments “Don’t murder” and “Don’t steal.” The gifts of Baptism and Holy Communion.

And then there are other topics where God hasn’t spoken to us so clearly that the matter is settled: Vegetarianism. What kind of government a country should have. Which direction the chancel chairs should face in church. I kid you not, my church council once had a huge argument over this!

We call these things “adiaphora.” That’s the technical term for things that Christians can disagree on and still be faithful Christians anyway. In our Bible reading for today, Paul is talking about how to handle adiaphora.

And what is his main concern? Not to split the church. Not to hurt our brothers and sisters with endless arguing, enforcing man-made rules, or pushing people to do things they feel are wrong. Paul says something really “out there”—he says, “Welcome each other anyway! Respect and love each other! Treat each other as fellow Christians—and keep the unity of the faith together.”

This is sort of amazing to hear in a time when people are so polarized. But the Holy Spirit tells us that one thing is most important, above all else—and that is Jesus Christ. He is the Lord of the living and the dead—and if He can be that, He can certainly handle being Lord of vegetarians and meat eaters as well!

All of us who believe in Jesus know that God loved us so much He came into our world to become one of us. He knows what conflict and division are like—He spent His childhood as a refugee in another country for political reasons, and His ministry was full of people arguing and trying to trap Him into saying things that would get Him killed. And when He lay down His life on the cross, He did it for people of all different kinds—men and women, the religious and the atheist, the liberal and the conservative. He rose again for all of us—breaking the power of sin and death for every single one of us who trusts in Him. Regardless of where we stand on adiaphora, we are all joined together in love as God’s children through Jesus, our Savior.

Now Jesus’ church is filled with an amazing variety of people—people He loves and appreciates. And He gives us the great joy of loving and appreciating these people too, even if we can’t understand them all!

We Pray: Dear Lord Jesus, I don’t understand certain people. Help me to love them in You anyway. Amen.

This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
Originally published in The Lutheran Hour on September 13, 2023
Used by permission from International Lutheran Laymen’s League, all rights

Reflection Questions:
1. What is a topic you feel strongly about, but other Christians disagree with you?
2. How can you show love for people you disagree with strongly?
3. Why do you think the Holy Spirit has left certain things unclear instead of just explaining everything to us right now?