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The Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink…
Romans 14:17 What a person eats or drinks isn’t important to God. Living in the Holy Spirit IS important.
“For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”
Romans 14:17 NLT
To those of us who study the Bible, it’s really not surprising to find that mankind has changed very little over thousands of years. People still commit sin, many refuse to worship their creator and see nothing wrong with worshiping idols instead, and even minor differences in the way we look, act, or speak can result in violence and death.
In Paul’s letter to the Romans, Chapter 14 is dedicated to helping weaker brothers and sisters in Christ to become stronger in their faith. In the 1st century AD — much like today — there was a lot of concern over diet. Many of the early believers came from a Jewish background in which dietary laws were very strict. Peter, in Acts 10, receives a vision from God in which he is told “Do not call something unclean if God has made it clean.”. In that one direct statement from God, the dietary restrictions of the original covenant with God were wiped clean.
Despite Peter’s vision, many of the early believers still followed the dietary laws. With the Gentiles beginning to join the ranks of Christian believers, there was a lot of tension about food and drink! Imagine what an early Roman believer used to eating rare, juicy steaks would have thought when a believer from a Jewish background told him that unless the cow had been slaughtered by a priest in a proscribed manner, it was offensive to God…
Fast-forward to the latter part of the 20th century, when Barb and I were vegetarians. We weren’t vegans — we enjoyed cheese and other dairy products — but we didn’t eat meat. What we found is that this made life difficult for friends and relatives, since they felt they had to go out of their way to prepare special meals for us (they didn’t need to…). No wonder so many of those friends stopped inviting us over for dinner! We’re now back to eating many of God’s creations…
What Paul says in this part of Romans 14 is that it isn’t important what we eat or drink, but that we need to be living a life empowered by the Holy Spirit. If not eating certain meats would cause another believer to give up being a Christian, Paul thought it was much more important to give up the meat for a meal than cause that other brother or sister to stumble.
The same goes for drinking in moderation. Some Christians today believe that drinking anything alcoholic is a sin. I imagine that at a great feast, a 21st century Paul would probably rather see everyone drink what they want — in moderation — and show love toward one another than to frown at each other for either drinking wine or being abstemious.
Instead of letting what another person eats or drinks cause division between Christians, we need to follow Paul’s advice to live “a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”
Heaven On Wheels Daily Prayer:
Thank You, heavenly Father, that You made us all different. Let us all realize that living in the Holy Spirit is what’s important, not the differences in what we eat or drink or in how we worship you. Give us each day the ability to live a life of goodness, peace, and joy with our brothers and sisters in Christ. In Jesus’ name we pray, AMEN.