Paul talks about standards, and does so in a way that we culturally just don’t get. You see, when we talk about standards, it is always the big three: what you wear, what you listen to, and what you watch. This is the outward appearance, this is the ear gate, and this is the eye gate. Ironically, Paul doesn’t use any of our modern standard conflicts to deal with this issue of Spirit-led unity in the body of Christ. Instead he deals with the predominant one in the church of his day: food. Can you imagine that discussion today? How big should a hamburger bun really be? Can you call yourself “Christian” and eat mustard? How could you ever think that you are right with God and eat Fritos?!? As silly as this may sound, this was the big discussion of the day. The great thing about Paul is that when he deals with this food standard, he doesn’t take sides. He says that if we truly operate under the auspice of Christian love, we will always seek to defer our own personal preferences and desires to those around us who may have a more stringent standard. (v. 15-18) As true followers of Christ and lovers of our brethren, we should be willing to change our living habits in order to not offend a weaker brother and ultimately hinder the work of God. Faith in God dictates this humbling of our desires. It subsides the need to be “right.” It acknowledges that according to the gospel we were all “wrong” without Jesus, therefore He is the only one who has the right to be offended by other people disagreeing with His standard. It then shows us that we should lovingly work to not offend those around us with our actions. True faith will always breed unity.
Food for Thought: Read Romans 14:16-23. What things did people in paul’s day disagree on? List four standards that people today disagree on.