“Hey it’s about time we got together,” Joe said. “I was becoming a permanent fixture in my house.”
“Well you just make sure to tell Sarah I said thanks for letting you out of your cage,” Frank said and chomped on a fry.
Joe smirked. “Like Jennifer lets you go out more than Sarah lets me.”
Franks face twisted in mock offense. “What are you talking about? When I want to go out I goes out.”
Joe rolled his eyes. “King of your castle blah blah blah.”
Frank grinned and swallowed a bite of burger. “Hey grab that waiter will ya.”
“Huh?” Joe turned.
“Nevermind,” Frank said and lifted a finger. “Hey…Sir!”
Their waiter approached the table. A kid, late teens. His eye twitched when he spoke. “W, what can I get for you?”
Frank’s eyes darted between the twitch and white knuckles as the kid gripped the order tab. “Calm down…” he eyed the name tag “…Steven. You pass out who’s gonna bring me a beer?”
Steven kept his eyes glued to the tab. “W, what kind?”
The kid nodded and sped away. Frank chuckled and looked up into Joe’s narrow glare.
“I thought we talked about this,” Joe said.
Frank straightened. “Bout what? The beer?”
Joe sighed. “You know where I stand. I’ve told you before that I’m not comfortable with Christians drinking.”
“And I’ve told you that I am,” Frank shot back. “I’m not asking you to have one.”
“That’s not the point I’m—”
“Hey I don’t have a problem with it and you do. So I’ll drink one and you drink your water okay?” The stare he got back let him know it wasn’t okay.
But if your brother is being pained or his feelings hurt or if he is being injured by what you eat, [then] you are no longer walking in love. [You have ceased to be living and conducting yourself by the standard of love toward him.] Do not let what you eat hurt or cause the ruin of one for whom Christ died! --Romans 14:15
So really, it wasn’t my intention to make the guy who wants a beer come across like a jerk. It just kinda happened. Plenty of people who love Jesus could’ve handled this in a more tactful way than Frank but if the end result is the same they’d still be wrong.
I chose alcohol to represent Paul’s principal in the passage above because I think it’s one frequently encountered within the community of Jesus lovers. One group has no problem with alcohol minus getting drunk and one group thinks it should never be consumed by professing Christians.
It’s quite polarizing but alcohol in and of itself not the point of this blog. Paul’s principle is. We get caught up in debating so many trivial matters that end up leaving both parties offended. The context of chapter 14 is food. Paul is addressing a conflict between those who eat meat and those who eat only vegetables. It was apparently a divisive issue. Both sides had their reasons why they were right and the other side wrong.
But Paul comes in and destroys this by saying we are out of bounds when we participate in something we know offends our brother/sister in Christ. Paul goes on to say in verse 19, “So let us then definitely aim for and eagerly pursue what makes for harmony and for mutual upbuilding (edification and development) of one another.”
That’s the point isn’t it? Why can’t we just not have a beer? Why can’t we just not watch that show or movie or eat a steak? Why can’t we just not talk about our Haloween plans in front of those who believe it’s sinful behavior to participate in it at all? It’s called bending the knee in self-sacrificial love and as followers of Jesus we are called to resist the visceral reaction of perceived legalism and bend said knee.
As Paul says in verse 21 and 22, “The right thing is to eat no meat or drink no wine [at all], or [do anything else] if it makes your brother stumble or hurts his conscience or offends or weakens him. Your personal convictions [on such matters]—exercise [them] as in God’s presence, keeping them to yourself [striving only to know the truth and obey His will]. Blessed (happy, [a]to be envied) is he who has no reason to judge himself for what he approves [who does not convict himself by what he chooses to do].”
It’s okay if you feel like having a beer is wrong. I’ll still have an occasional beer but I won’t do it in front of you and I’ll keep my personal convictions to myself unless invited to share. I might eat a steak in front of you regardless. Just kidding…sort of.
Jesse and Kara Birkey
Jesse and Kara Birkey are committed lovers of Jesus who seek to show others the extraordinary life of Jesus is available for everyone. They have authored two books, been featured in films and seek to serve the Lord in whatever ways they can. Follow their blog here.
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Life Resurrected, Extraordinary Miracles through Ordinary People has been endorsed by Sid Roth and Mark Virkler and is a collection of inspiring stories making it clear that the extraordinary life of Jesus is available to all who love Him. It’s also the testimony of Jesse’s life, the road he travelled bringing him into the arms of Jesus. Get the paperback here. Get the Kindle Version Here. View the trailer here.
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