In chapter fourteen, Paul turns his attention to the relationship between brothers and sisters in the faith. Certain issues can cause disagreement between believers that have nothing to do with the main doctrines of the faith but deals with the area of Christian liberty. Paul wanted to give some instructions dealing with these issues so that conflict within the body could be avoided.
The issues that Paul addressed here have to do with rather or not we should eat meat or vegetables, the holding of certain days as sacred, and rather or not one should drink wine. Paul instructs us to accept the ones that are weak in the faith without arguing.
“Accept anyone who is weak in faith, but don’t argue about doubtful issues.”
Romans 14:1 HCSB ( https://www.bible.com/72/rom.14.1.hcsb )
This is an important statement that many believers need to hear. It doesn’t matter if you think you are the strong one or the weak one in the faith. What is important is how we treat and respect others. Paul simply says that we are to accept them without arguing about unimportant secondary issues.
It may seem strange that the early church would have been fighting over rather or not to eat meat or vegetables, but many church splits have been over even stupider issues than what we eat. I have heard rumors of churches splitting over carpet colors, worship songs, and stain glass windows. So Paul isn’t far off about the stupid issues that believers can fight about.
“So then, we must pursue what promotes peace and what builds up one another. Do not tear down God’s work because of food. Everything is clean, but it is wrong for a man to cause stumbling by what he eats. It is a noble thing not to eat meat, or drink wine, or do anything that makes your brother stumble.”
Romans 14:19-21 HCSB ( https://www.bible.com/72/rom.14.19-21.hcsb )
Paul instructs us to seek after peace within the church and building each other up. We can do this by following what Paul taught us in chapter thirteen that we put on Christ daily and demonstrate genuine love to others. Later in the book of Philippians, we are given another key to being about to live at peace with others which is that we are to “esteem others as more important than ourselves” (Phil. 2:3). When we have this attitude we will go out of our way to help the “weaker” Christian be able to continue in the faith without stumbling.
Most of the issues that the church fights about today are not about what we eat, keeping certain holy days, or even drinking wine. Instead, what the church fights about are political issues and social issues. There are some social issues that the church should make a stand against because the Bible is very clear that those issues are sins, but while taking that stand it should be done with love and understanding. While other issues we can disagree on and still worship together. The church you attended should have nothing to do with the party that you vote for or your political views. The church is to be about the spreading of the gospel, not the agenda of the Democratic or Republican parties. We should through love be able to fellowship and worship together.
Besides politics, another issue that is a hot topic right now is the Covid-19 vaccine. Some say you shouldn’t get it and others believe that everyone should be vaccinated. There are good arguments for both sides. Those that say you should get vaccinated say that it makes everyone safer and we should be thinking about the safety of the rest of the community. The other side, says that we don’t know the long-term effects of the vaccine because it has not passed the proper process of trials that vaccines are supposed to pass.
This is a good modern-day example of what Paul is talking about. This is not an issue of doctrine (although some groups will not get any vaccines because of their beliefs), but an issue of personal conviction. This is an area that we can disagree on, but we should not argue about it. The problem is that the church has mistakenly allowed the toxic political situation to take root in the church, and we should all be ashamed of ourselves. There is not one group that is to blame. Instead, the entirety of the Christian community is at fault for placing too much importance on politics; more than likely steaming from a poor understanding of the doctrine of God's providence.
If you get the vaccine then good for you for following your convictions. If you decide against getting the vaccine then good for you for following your convictions. Stop arguing and start showing the love of God to the world by loving your brothers and sister in Christ. What was it that Jesus said about how the world would be able to identify His disciples? Was it by our political positions? Social justice issues? Getting or rejecting the vaccine? No, but by our love for each other. May God forgive us for not properly loving each other.
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35 NIV.