Put the Stones Down!
In the past two days I’ve done quite a bit of reading where Christians have made harsh statements about other Christians based on decisions they make. One instance was a church website that went as far as to say that anyone that didn’t share the churches beliefs wasn’t actually a Christian to start with and would burn in Hell.
Another included many Christians arguing about the legality of Christians watching a particular movie. It ended with many Christians stating that born again believers would not have a desire to watch said movie. Therefore, anyone saying they were going to watch the movie and claiming they are Christian were either never saved to start with or living intentionally in direct rebellion to God’s will.
And then the Christians on the other side throw out the “Judge not…” from Matthew 7. The “judging” Christians comeback with Ezekiel 3:18-19 if they’re talking to non-Christians and Matthew 28:15-17 if they’re talking to Christians.
I really want to just put on my teacher voice and yell, “Knock it off! What is this argument benefiting either side? Why did you even bring these subjects up?”
You see, Paul addresses a similar topic in Romans 14. I’m going to change food to wine for a contemporary topic that is still very much relevant.
Let’s say two Christian families attend a non-denominational church that has no strong belief on partaking in alcohol. Believers are left on their own to decide what God speaks to them about partaking of alcoholic beverages. It is not condoned nor condemned.
One family has searched the scriptures, prayed, and waited for God’s answer. They are at peace with the decision that Jesus’s water to wine was not grape juice, but fermented juice that is present day wine. They do not drink to become drunk, but they do enjoy an alcoholic beverage with dinner several nights a week.
Family two has an adult member that has struggled with an alcohol addiction. After being sober for 16 months, they have returned to church and are becoming grounded in the faith they were raised in. They feel that alcohol is not only a sin, but will destroy their family if given any foothold at all in their lives.
Both families meet for dinner on a Friday night. Family one goes to order a bottle of wine. The recently sober member of family two asks if they could please not drink in front of their family because they have made a pledge to God not to have anything to do with alcohol.
Which family is right?
Most of us want to choose a family. We want a black or white answer. Right or wrong. One way or the other.
The truth, however, is somewhere in the gray.
Scripture speaks of alcohol taken to cure stomach ailments. It talks about the use of alcohol by men of leadership in the church. It speaks of Jesus turning water into wine. It speaks of the crowds thinking the apostles were drunk when they were preaching.
It also speaks of being sober-minded. Too drink or not to drink?
The answer is clear.
Let. It. Go.
Those who feel free to eat anything must not look down on those who don’t. And those who don’t eat certain foods must not condemn those who do, for God has accepted them. Romans 14:3
Sometimes we are free to live according to the promises we have made God as long as it doesn’t create a problem for someone else.
If I’m a recovering alcoholic and you drink in front of me, you’re causing a problem for me. If I’ve made an oath to God that I will never eat beef, that’s not your cross to bear. I can’t expect everyone else to live by the promise I made with God.
Yes, sometimes we are called to warn someone that they are headed down a slippery slope called sin. But we warn them and then we pray for them. We don’t berate them publicly. We don’t harass them. We don’t stone them.
I may choose not to participate in what they’re doing. I may even separate myself from their company because of their decisions. But I don’t proclaim for all to hear that they are on a one-track path to Hell with no hope of returning to God.
We can choose not to condone without choosing to stone.
Will you join me in putting the stones down? Let’s help somebody up instead of reminding them of just how low the world thinks they are.
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