The Simplest “Most Confusing” Chapter in the Bible

A thought occurred to me yesterday that I had never had before, and it was this: when the church at Rome read the fourteenth chapter, somebody was spitting mad at Paul for what he had written to them about meats offered unto idols. When we read Romans 14, we don’t feel the connection because meats offered to idols isn’t a thing for us. I would dare say none of us have even had the opportunity to purchase a meat which had been offered to an idol. It’s not a problem. And possibly because we have no connection at all to that situation, we claim confusion as our reasoning to missing the point of the chapter.

Yet the point of Romans 14 is quite simple: don’t unnecessarily be a stumbling block. Don’t use the position of your strength, your strong feelings, your rationalizations, your knowledge and understanding of a situation to cause doubt, insecurity, resentment, or contempt in someone else. Paul writes it from the position of the stronger supporting those who are weaker, but think about it—if we feel strongly about something, how many of us would be taking the stance that our position is the weaker one? But here’s the twist: some apparently felt very strongly against eating meats offered to idols, while others did not have strong feelings one way or the other, and didn’t see what the big deal was. And it was those to whom Paul was writing, because of another twist: some people have strong feelings about not having strong feelings.

Wait. What?

That’s right. Just because I don’t have strong feelings about something does not mean that I don’t have strong feelings about having strong feelings. (Worded differently, some people have strong opinions about not having opinions.) And that’s OK, at least until my strong feelings about not having strong feelings put me in opposition to someone who does have strong feelings.

Are you confused yet? If so, you’re not the first, and that is what has led many to throw up their hands in frustration at Romans 14, and ultimately miss the point: “Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way” (Romans 14:13). Whether it’s to eat meats or not, to observe days or not, or even to wear a mask or not, my strong feelings about something (or my strong feelings about a lack of strong feelings) are not worth causing someone else to stumble or causing division in the body of Christ.

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