I got to reading Romans 14 last night. And this chapter might as well have been titled something like “Paul’s 2nd letter to the Adventists”. For it focuses on what to eat and what not to eat; an issue that – although not at the centre of Adventist theology – has had a profound impact on our identity. Sadly, one might add, as Tvesok has done.
Consider these passages from The Message version:
“For instance, a person who has been around for a while might well be convinced that he can eat anything on the table, while another, with a different background, might assume all Christians should be vegetarians and eat accordingly. But since both are guests at Christ’s table, wouldn’t it be terribly rude if they fell to criticizing what the other ate or didn’t eat? God, after all, invited them both to the table.
If you eat meat, eat it to the glory of God and thank God for the prime rib; if you’re a vegetarian, eat vegetables to the glory of God and thank God for broccoli.
If you confuse others by making a big issue over what they eat or don’t eat, you’re no longer a companion with them in love, are you? These, remember, are persons for whom Christ died. Would you risk sending them to hell over an item in their diet? Don’t you dare let a piece of God-blessed food become an occasion of soul-poisoning!” (Romans 14:2-4,6,15-16, Msg)
Some would no doubt be quick to point out that Paul is not talking about clean and unclean meats here, that he would not even regard unclean meats as food, and thus they are not part of this picture. Perhaps. But that is not the point – no, Paul is not talking about clean/unclean, he isn’t even talking about food per se, he’s talking about accepting other points of view than your own and embracing fellow Christians in spite of differing opinions.
“So let’s agree to use all our energy in getting along with each other. Help others with encouraging words; don’t drag them down by finding fault. You’re certainly not going to permit an argument over what is served or not served at supper to wreck God’s work among you, are you?” (Romans 14:19, Msg)
There are many Christian churches, and none will agree on every single issue. There are many Christians, and none will agree on every single issue. The question is, do you focus on the issues where you disagree, or on those where you agree? I say, let God do the judging.