Head First: Stop fixing me and I'll stop fixing you.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Stop fixing me and I'll stop fixing you.

Lately, several passages from Romans 14 have come to my thinking. I especially like Eugene Peterson's translation of it. Is it just me, or does Paul suggest that being in good relationships is more important than believing the same things?

Cultivating Good Relationships

1 Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don't see things the way you do. And don't jump all over them every time they do or say something you don't agree with—even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department. Remember, they have their own history to deal with. Treat them gently.

2-4 For instance, a person who has been around for a while might well be convinced that he can eat anything on the table, while another, with a different background, might assume he should only be a vegetarian and eat accordingly. But since both are guests at Christ's table, wouldn't it be terribly rude if they fell to criticizing what the other ate or didn't eat? God, after all, invited them both to the table. Do you have any business crossing people off the guest list or interfering with God's welcome? If there are corrections to be made or manners to be learned, God can handle that without your help.

5 Or, say, one person thinks that some days should be set aside as holy and another thinks that each day is pretty much like any other. There are good reasons either way. So, each person is free to follow the convictions of conscience.

6-9 What's important in all this is that if you keep a holy day, keep it for God's sake; if you eat meat, eat it to the glory of God and thank God for prime rib; if you're a vegetarian, eat vegetables to the glory of God and thank God for broccoli. None of us are permitted to insist on our own way in these matters. It's God we are answerable to—all the way from life to death and everything in between—not each other. That's why Jesus lived and died and then lived again: so that he could be our Master across the entire range of life and death, and free us from the petty tyrannies of each other.

10-12 So where does that leave you when you criticize a brother? And where does that leave you when you condescend to a sister? I'd say it leaves you looking pretty silly—or worse. Eventually, we're all going to end up kneeling side by side in the place of judgment, facing God. Your critical and condescending ways aren't going to improve your position there one bit. Read it for yourself in Scripture:

"As I live and breathe," God says,
"every knee will bow before me;
Every tongue will tell the honest truth
that I and only I am God."
So tend to your knitting. You've got your hands full just taking care of your own life before God.

13-14 Forget about deciding what's right for each other. Here's what you need to be concerned about: that you don't get in the way of someone else, making life more difficult than it already is. I'm convinced—Jesus convinced me!—that everything as it is in itself is holy. We, of course, by the way we treat it or talk about it, can contaminate it.

15-16 If you confuse others by making a big issue over what they eat or don't eat, you're no longer a companion with them in love, are you? These, remember, are persons for whom Christ died. Would you risk sending them to hell over an item in their diet? Don't you dare let a piece of God-blessed food become an occasion of soul-poisoning!

17-18 God's kingdom isn't a matter of what you put in your stomach, for goodness' sake. It's what God does with your life as he sets it right, puts it together, and completes it with joy. Your task is to single-mindedly serve Christ. Do that and you'll kill two birds with one stone: pleasing the God above you and proving your worth to the people around you.

19-21 So let's agree to use all our energy in getting along with each other. Help others with encouraging words; don't drag them down by finding fault. You're certainly not going to permit an argument over what is served or not served at supper to wreck God's work among you, are you? I said it before and I'll say it again: All food is good, but it can turn bad if you use it badly, if you use it to trip others up and send them sprawling. When you sit down to a meal, your primary concern should not be to feed your own face but to share the life of Jesus. So be sensitive and courteous to the others who are eating. Don't eat or say or do things that might interfere with the free exchange of love.

22-23 Cultivate your own relationship with God, but don't impose it on others. You're fortunate if your behavior and your belief are coherent. But if you're not sure, if you notice that you are acting in ways inconsistent with what you believe—some days trying to impose your opinions on others, other days just trying to please them—then you know that you're out of line. If the way you live isn't consistent with what you believe, then it's wrong.


RF2R2 said...

I like.

The Message can be such a useful tool for conveying ideas from scripture.

Jekk said...

Mmm, one of my favorite passages. Always reminds me to just love others and lean on the side of grace, even and especially if they aren't exactly believing like me.


JimmyBob said...

God's up to something, man. I keep hearing this stuff. Thanks for posting those verses.

Zeke said...

Quit twisting scripture like this, Dorse. It takes all the fun out of being right.

sandytrif said...

Hmmm, I think I basically agree with this translation, but I have some issues with some things. I guess because I work with some tweeners and see how they are dressing (yeah @a christian school), are all things permissable? Is their dressing offensive to me and I should just say it or let it go because I don't want to offend them or others? I don't know. Where do we draw the line at not being offensive? Maybe I am just reading too much into this.

RF2R2 said...

I guess because I work with some tweeners and see how they are dressing (yeah @a christian school), are all things permissable? Is their dressing offensive to me and I should just say it or let it go because I don't want to offend them or others? I don't know. Where do we draw the line at not being offensive?

I also used to work at a christian academy with K-6 kids (it was a full school system, K-12, I just worked specifically with the K-6). My own view at the time was that the institutions standards had to be enforced even if I didn't agree with or understand all the of them. I'm not saying I was okay with kids dressing inappropriately (it's a learning environment centered around the person and ministry of Jesus Christ - kids should be held to a higher standard there, I think), but some other standards just didn't seem effective or logical, so I just told myself I was working for the man and rules are rules \_-_-_/

My point is that even if you haven't decided where you stand on dresscode at your work, you work has and I'm pretty sure there is a standard already outlined - one of the most important things you can do for kids is set boundaries and make them accountable for staying within them. One of the most damaging things for a developing child is for them to be allowed to consistently break established boundaries. To me, telling the kids to follow the rules wasn't about fulfilling some moral obligation to allways do what is right, it was about teaching them something about life and about god: his rules don't change and even in life you benefit from having the rationale and self-control to stay within boundaries when it is appropriate.

Hope that helps.

seƱor jefe said...

i thank god for prime rib.

(hobbes is antichrist, as well...)

Zeke said...

I wonder if vegetarians debate over beets sacrificed to idols.

dorsey said...

All beets are from the devil, so that's that.

sandy, I don't think this passage is about enforcing a standard nor exercising authority over those for whom you have been given responsibility. I mean, that's part of your job, right? And as the father of one of those girls, I'm counting on you and the other faculty to enforce it while she's there (I can only enforce it when she's with me). In fact, when she comes home and says, "Mrs. Trif said I was dressed like a hoochie!" it opens the door for a (hopefully) fruitful conversation at home.

I think Paul was speaking more to those Christians who feel compelled to have everything figured out, and who tend to judge each other's christianity according to their own standard. These people exist on every side, and they're generally blind to the damage they do to others because of their belief that "the truth" is paramount and "the faith" must be defended.

Kc said...

"God, after all, invited them both to the table. Do you have any business crossing people off the guest list or interfering with God's welcome? If there are corrections to be made or manners to be learned, God can handle that without your help."

Is that kewl or what?

Your last comment gave me pause. I really do think the Truth is paramount I just don’t think any of us have complete knowledge of Him. I do think we come to a better understanding though and strengthen our faith through our relationships.

This post seems critical to sound Dorseism.

dorsey said...

I completely agree that truth is paramount. I just no longer feel the need to be the arbiter of it (I did, once). I think God can handle that, too.

You've hit on a huge point, KC, when you say that our relationships deepen our understanding and strengthen our faith. I think that is the central message of the great commandments (love God, love each other). It's easy to be black and white and absolute when scripture is just an academic exercise (as it clearly is for many, many people, but I'm not judging, lol). However, relationships aren't so cut and dry, and the messiness of working out our interpersonal connectedness reveals the nuances of relational truth that a pure study of scripture alone cannot accomplish. I don't know if you're willing to go this far, but I think it deserves a good look.

dorsey said...

I think it's appropriate at this time to restate one of the central truths of Dorseism:

Follow me as I follow Christ, but you'll likely get there sooner on your own.

That may become the new slogan of my blog.

sandytrif said...

Came across this verse (as we are studing Revelation)Sorry only have the NIV translation~but would be interested in the Messages
19: 10
At this I fell at his (an angel)feet to worship him. But he said to me, "Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worhip God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
PS: I only said "hoochies" after many many days of discussion on their clothing or lack of clothing.

dorsey said...

Actually, The Message is very similar:

"I fell at his feet to worship him, but he wouldn't let me. "Don't do that," he said. "I'm a servant just like you, and like your brothers and sisters who hold to the witness of Jesus. The witness of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.""

Kris said...

Great post Dorsey. This hits home to me more now than ever since getting married.

Do I want to be right or do I want to be happy? = I judge not lest I am judged by the same measure.

You guys that have been married long before me already knew that answer.

Praise God for my wife, she knows how right I really am. Which is far less than I used to think I was.

Merry Christmas, Dorsey, my friend, I miss your points of Dorseism over at the pub.

By the way if you quit.........never mind, I would rather be happy! LOL

Keith Jones said...

Hate to resurrect an old post, but just had to comment here. What I find interesting about this passage is that it seems to clearly state that "right and wrong" are not conditions to be met through adherence to rules set forth by God, but more that "right and wrong" are constructs of one's own conscience. This would imply that what we do is judged only by one's intent, i.e. the intent to do what is good (in our mind) versus the intent to go against what we know is good (in our mind).

Intent is a powerful thing. Of course, this leaves an interesting big ol' grey area where those crazy people hear God telling them to kill children and they believe they were doing good.

Food for thought, certainly. I like this passage and will likely steal the topic for my own blog ( http://www.kjsworld.com , which I have added you to the blogroll of). Shameless plug, yes, but just wanted to say thanks for the interesting topic.