March 01, 2011

Don' trip anyone {In other words, don't make your brother stumble}

   Imagine this scenario: You are on a diet, which you started less than a week ago; you really felt this diet would be a great thing for you. So far, you have done well, and you have not eaten anything except salad. Then your friend calls, “Want to go out to lunch?” You agree, and you suggest saladtopia. Your pal says that nothing is wrong with saladtopia, but he thinks it would be fun to go to McDonalds; since it had many choices including salad. You hesitantly agree, and the date is set. When you get to McDonalds, you quickly order a salad. As you sit down, your friend walks over to the table with a Big Mac, a large fry, a large sweet tea, and an apple pie. You sit twirling your salad pretending the slimy green leaves were French fries…it is not working. Your friend asks, “Wanna fry? I have plenty!” Just one, you think to yourself. Before you know it you’ve consumed the entire box. By this point you have completely given up on the diet altogether, though your friend “technically” did nothing wrong…

This is the scenario in which Paul urges Christians to avoid. There are two groups who participate:the weaker and stronger brother. From what I have studied, the weaker is the one who is “weak in faith.”[1] Paul clearly states that it is ok to eat all food. However, some people simply felt convicted to eat only vegetables, for the fear that if they ate the market’s meat God would smite them. Someone weak in faith is someone without strong enough faith to believe that God loves him or her even if He eats pork, and they think God will smite them if they wear pants. [2]
 Numerous issues; can completely divide two groups of Christians, no matter how petty the issues are. One of the issues that Paul deals with is the eating of meat sacrificed to idols. Some people were not sure if the meat in the market was sacrificed to idols, so rather than abide under the grace God had given them, they chose not to eat meat at all.
     All of the issues have one thing in common; they are not a sin[3]. If they were a sin, then the entire matter would be different. If someone was say, lying all day, then that would be a sin, and it is not something that is neutral.  If there is a verse in the bible that specifically says to do/don’t do then it is not neutral. Lying, stealing, and adultery are all subjects in the Bible that are not neutral.  What then would a neutral issue be?
  A neutral issue is one that is neither right nor wrong, such as buying a puppy calendar, or taking a picture of the sky; doing these things is not a sin, and you aren’t doing these things without love { see footnote 1} However, some people have different convictions then that of your own. Such as girls wearing skirts singularly.  This is not a problem; it depends on the specific person’s convictions.
     One of the issues the church of Corinth was dealing with was the eating of meat sacrificed to idols. Some members of the church were not sure if the meat from the market had been previously sacrificed to idols. This is a neutral issue.
    In Romans 14-15, Paul is talking to the Romans about not letting such issues come between them; such as meat sacrificed in idol worship. Paul said it would be better for him never to eat meat again then to cause a brother to stumble. How would he cause someone to stumble by eating meat? Pretend I was delivered from idol worship, if I see you, a redeemed Jew {who never struggled with idol worship} eating food sacrificed to idols, then it might cause me to stumble. It was a problem for me because it brought up the past, causing doubts and temptation.  Paul tells us to strive not to cause our brothers {and sisters} to stumble. If say, a young girl wore a dress she believed was modest, but it was causing one of her brothers to stumble, then it would be far better for her to wear something different then for her to cause her brother to lust.
     There are always going to be differences in the body of Christ. There is nothing wrong with differences unless we let them become division. In Romans 14, Paul talks about how we are to act in love[4] Paul says that if what we eat causes our brother to stumble; we are no longer walking in love, which would be breaking Jesus’s commandment. Paul also says that we should not judge each other. The Man who eats meat must not judge the man who does, and the man who does must not judge the man who does not. Paul does not want them to remove their differences; he wants them to rise above the differences.
     Over all, it is our duty as Christians to do our best not to offend other believers by our actions. If we cause strife, then we cause division, and that causes a fracture in the Body of Christ. Considering that Jesus prayed for unity in the church[5] and unity is mentioned numerous times in the New Testament, I think that is important that we maintain it. In history, every war was cause by fractured kingdoms, which were not in unity with each other. Fractured unity means a fractured army. We will not be able to stand up to fight the battle against the enemy unless we are constantly keeping peace with our brothers and sisters, and standing in unity. Therefore, we need to make it our first priority not to cause our brothers to stumble, and strive to continue living harmoniously with our fellow companions.

Ephesians 4:3
Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace…

[1] Romans 14:1-2
[2] Please note that I think both of these things are great if God convicted one personally of doing these things. I am simply talking about one who does them ONLY because they think God will not love them if they do. The same with eating only vegetables. If one is doing it for health reasons then it is different from doing it ONLY because you think God will not love you if you eat meat.
[3] The law Jesus gave reveals sin,
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with your entire mind and with all your strength, the second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these” These two commandments alone cover every one of the Ten Commandments and more. If you love your neighbor you are going to steal from them, you are going to be jealous of them; you are not going to murder them, etc. Likewise, if you love God, you are not going to take His name in vain, you are not going to worship another God, etc.
In Galatians 5: 12
[4] See footnote 1
[5] John 17


May Amelia said...

AMEN! THis is one of the best posts I've read about this subject. Keep up the good work. =D
PS I got the necklace in the mail yesterday!! Thanks so much!!

Hannah.Rachel said...

Oh, this is so much like a post I just posted about music! --->

Good stuff =]

Rose said...

This is really good. My family has been studying this a bit and I think you have some great points.
Thanks for posting this.