Summary: As we reopen churches from Covid 19 we will see that life has changed and that opinions wildly differ on the issues. Romans 14 deals with similar food fights that have erupted in the church and how to solve them
The difference between us
this is a serious message today about something that could become a serious problem.
Have you ever been involved in a food fight? These are the kind of things that spontaneously break out in cafeterias or at summer camp and it’s usually for fun. But in the Bible a food fight broke out that ended up threatening to split apart a church.
Let me read for you Romans 14 about a serious issue that cropped up in the early church.
Romans (ESV) 14:1 As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. 2 One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. 3 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. 4 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.
This is a food fight taken to a whole another level. In fact, you may be thinking, how silly that a church got into a fight over meat and potatoes. How silly that a group of people got so married to their food preferences that they were doubting those that didn’t hold their beliefs that they were even Christians.
Now there is a story behind the food fight…
But we do the same thing today. Let me tell you some of the fights that I’ve seen in the church…
- Carpet colors
- fuzzy doctrinal issues
- card playing
- what kind of music
- which version of the Bible
- technology or non-technology
- clothing preference
- the wearing of makeup
- a woman’s role in the church
- G rated/PG rated/PG-13 rated/R-rated entertainment
- what you can and can’t do on a Sunday
and that’s just the short list! But let me add a new one to the list; Covid 19, coronavirus, where it comes from, how serious is it, what to do about it, and the politics that surround it. In a church like ours we have people who are hyper fearful and wish everybody would have a hazmat suit and then we have the opposite who believe it’s government overreach and that true Christians won’t contract it.
Covid 19 is just the latest in a series of things that Satan will use to divide the church against each other. And when that happens we violate a prayer request that Jesus made for us that I bet very few of us ever pray…
John 17:20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
Jesus wanted his followers to be one.
Later on Paul would define this oneness with other words like family – like a body – that we are somehow in knit together in love.
I have a biological family and we share things in common that nobody else shares. And what we share in common is so strong that even though we are all different ages, and have different jobs, and live in different states, and are at different levels of faith, in different political opinions – there is something that rises above all of that where we will never be torn apart.
That’s what Jesus was praying for – that we would have that!
Let’s get back to Romans for a moment. What is going on in that church beyond the food? What can we learn from them? Take a look at the Scripture and will discover a couple of things;
1. First, it can get ugly when my convictions (or my opinions, or my ways of doing things) become a test of fellowship for others.
How it starts is when two different people have two different opinions on the same subject. Now let’s understand that were not talking about some clear-cut Bible teaching that is vital to what it means to follow Jesus. If someone comes along and says, “I don’t think Jesus is the only way to heaven” then were going to have a problem. But I have been in churches where the subject of women wearing pants had been elevated to some kind of exclusive belief and not to believe it there way meant that you were excluded.