Bicycle In The Lift
Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died. Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.
Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.
So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves. But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin. (Romans 14:13-23)
If you've ever had to fit a bicycle into an elevator, you know that unless the lift is big enough, there is a certain way to fit both yourself and the bicycle in that allows other people to enter. If you mess this up (as I sometimes do), it can become extra difficult if not impossible for any others to use the lift. This is inconvenient and irresponsible behaviour that is usually forgiven but sometimes treated with disdain.
Thinking about this, I realised this is a great analogy for how we can do a lot of things but specifically I want to use it as an example of how we can conduct our Christianity. Paul, in Romans 14:13-23, instructs the Romans not to stumble another. The context for this was that there were Gentile and Hebrew believers within the Roman church, but because of cultural differences, the Hebrews were often stumbled in their faith by things that seemed fine to the Gentiles.
The example Paul gave was of food. Gentiles were fine with eating food offered to idols but the Hebrews because of cultural upbringing and customs found the practice abhorrent. The way that the Gentiles conducted their faith, while not wrong innately, was stumbling the Hebrew disciples. Of course, the Hebrews also had ways to learn. Peter was rebuked by God about clean and unclean food in Acts 10:9-16.
But going back to Paul, he stated that while he himself had no qualms about eating meat, he would willingly give it up so as not to stumble those whose faith it would affect. It was less about who were right and wrong and more about thinking for the other person and loving them.
Just because it isn't wrong for you or in general doesn't always mean it's right. “The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves,” (Romans 14:22 ESV) is the message that Paul gives, but accordingly, “Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats.” (Romans 14:20 ESV)
Back to the bicycle analogy, Paul was telling people that even though the goal of getting their bicycles to the destination could have been accomplished either way, it was important to include other people in the consideration. In fact, it was wrong to just go ahead selfishly only concerned about themselves and their bicycles.
You can see where I'm going with this. This is a nice follow-up to my previous quiet time, but essentially we might hold certain views about different topics that may be grey areas of faith or even outright not wrong. But for the sake of others who might have their faith affected by such opinions expressed explicitly, it is important to keep our opinions between us and God and those who will not be stumbled in faith, loving those who will be by our actions.
I won't name specific issues, but I'm sure that there are certain things that we feel fine that is stumbling to others. The wise and loving thing to do is to respect what others may be stumbled by knowing that perhaps those are areas they might need some time with or wholly just don't agree with and thus affects their faith. As Christians we can be better, especially to fellow Christians and their relationship with God. Today, strive to put your bicycle inside the lift in such a way that others can fit.
Daniel is currently and forevermore will be a student and a learner, trying to delve into the deep conundrums of life and seeing where the path leads. He enjoys linking different things in life back to God through strange and seemingly random connections.