November 7, 2023

As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.


One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.


Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written,


“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,
    and every tongue shall confess to God.”


So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.


Romans 14:1-12


When I think about making Jesus the main thing in my life, I often reflect on sports. Athletics are a big source of insecurity for me, because I struggled with hand-to-eye coordination as a kid. I never felt like I could succeed as an athlete because I was missing something I felt like everyone else had; as a result, I sat out a lot of fun times. In a way, this is similar to what was happening to the Roman church in chapter 14. Paul called them out because they were refusing to come together because of their differences. These differences felt so divisive that individuals’ faith was getting called into question and those differences were starting to get elevated to the level of Jesus.


Paul is basically saying that it doesn’t matter what skills you use to play the game as long as you have the same objective. If you are reaching for the same goal, then that is what is important. Eating certain foods and worshiping in certain styles is a preference that some people feel convicted about, but people who feel differently shouldn’t be cast out of the church. As Paul says in verses 10-12, God is the one who judges and takes account. It isn’t our job to tell people that because their faith is weak in our eyes, they can’t be part of the team.


I have many memories of playing sports with Bryan Dunagan. When we were at Rutledge, I used to feel insecure because I wasn’t good at volleyball, but he always got me and the other kids on the sidelines to play (sometimes with a little force). As time went on, I began to realize that it didn’t matter whether or not I missed the ball as long as I was having fun. I was part of the team.


Fast forward about ten years and Bryan and I are serving together at Highland Park Pres. We had a staff volleyball day and I got put on his team. The ball came right for me in perfect position for a spike that would win the game, but I missed it. As competitive as we were and as much fun as we were having while winning, he didn’t look at me as the weakest link. He clapped me on the shoulder and accepted me as I was. This is what Paul is calling the church to do in Romans 14:1-12—to accept people who love Jesus and live for him as they are and to not allow preferences, personal conviction, or ability to disqualify them from the team. This is how to make Jesus the main thing in your life: to love him so much that we can see others the way that he sees them.

For Reflection

Do you ever look at someone’s faith and count them out because it doesn’t look like yours? Do you feel like your faith can’t measure up to someone else’s?


What would it look like to accept someone whose faith doesn’t match your preferences? What would it feel like for you to be accepted in the same way?


How does Jesus call us to be on the same team? What would being on that team mean for you this week?


Father God, I want to be on your team today. Thank you for accepting me as I am and for not counting my sin and failings against me. Please help me to look on others in the same way and to live all of my days for you. Thank you that you are the only true judge and that through Jesus, you judge me as righteous. Amen.

Rev. Wes Nichols
Pastor for Belong