As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. Romans 14:1
As Christians, we have incredible freedom. This is a big deal to Paul who lived most of his life under the yoke of the Law, striving toward perfection to earn status and salvation. The freedom his encounter with Christ ushered into his life is something he was passionate about proclaiming to all. Our freedom, paid for by the blood of Jesus, is a big deal. It makes Christianity different from any other religion. But our natural inclination is to slip back into slavery and drag others down with us. We stumble and cause others to stumble from two extremes: discouraging or beating others down with legalism, or on the other extreme, enticing others to sin through unwise use of liberty.
Freedom isn’t a long list of dos and don’ts. Freedom is knowing God’s Truth and letting the Spirit give us our own personal convictions that may look different in different seasons, and that are likely different than other Christians because we all have unique weaknesses, varied character work needed, and diverse assignments planned for our lives. Chuck Swindoll sums it up, “live free in Christ and allow others to do the same.”
Swindoll sums up four principles of freedom Paul outlines in Romans 14. First, accepting others is basic to cultivating freedom. Second, refusing to dictate to others allows the Lord freedom to direct their lives. Third, freeing others means we never assume a position we’re not qualified to fill. Fourth, loving others requires us to express our liberty wisely.
Jesus saves us. The Word teaches us. The Spirit convicts us. Salvation by grace through faith in Jesus’s work on the cross is non-negotiable. Loving God and our neighbors are non-negotiable. But God is not a God of lists; He is a God of relationship. Right living comes from right relationship. We must nurture this relationship, get to know God and point others to Him, learn to hear from Him and pray for discernment in our own lives. And allow others space and grace to do the same. Trust that God is good and the Holy Spirit is powerful. It’s not all on our shoulders.
Questions: What does freedom in Christ mean to you? Do you feel like you live in freedom or under the constraint of others’ expectations?