A Lesson for July 21st

Romans 14:20 Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for you to make others fall by what you eat; 21 it is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that makes your brother or sister stumble.

Two-thousand years ago new Christians were troubled by meat and wine that had been offered to a pagan god, since purchasing such meat or wine implied approval of idolatry. Since much of the meat and wine in the market had been offered as a sacrifice, the Apostle Paul advocated abstaining from meat and wine, if eating or drinking such items would contribute others thinking these idols held some power.

This is a hard teaching for instead of an easy to follow listing of what to eat and what to avoid, we must consider the cultural context of our eating and drinking. Furthermore, instead of easy to identify false gods with well known rules and customs, we are threatened by an illusion of self-sufficiency.

Thus abstaining from beer is essential when I dine with a colleague recovering from excess, and enjoying a beer at social event is essential lest others deem me to be smugly self-sufficient. In other words, build up one another by what you eat and what you drink or choose not to eat or drink.

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