June 18 - Romans 14:17

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

This verse follows Paul’s admonition that instead of passing judgment on each other, we should work to not become a stumbling block or obstacle to anyone else along the way.  Now, while he is discussing what foods a Jew might see as clean or unclean and whether or not it is appropriate for the Gentile believers to eat those foods; the rule still applies.

I remember my parents talking about drinking alcohol.  Now, my father was a teetotaler and my mother … well, let’s just say she wasn't.  However, it was important for both of them to be not just good examples of living a Christian life, but they recognized that people watched their behavior.  So … they didn't drink. They didn't swear (in public). They were kind to each other and taught us children to be well-behaved.

It wasn't a fa├žade, it was their reality because they knew they could never be a stumbling block to others.

Do you know the story of Welch’s grape juice?  Well, long ago, even Methodist churches served wine at communion on Sunday morning.  One Sunday, as Mr. Welch (who owned a vineyard) was in worship, he watched a well-known recovering alcoholic go forward for communion and that week, because of communion, he began drinking again.  Mr. Welch knew that he could never watch that happen again and set out to create a grape juice with no fermentation.

He didn't want Sunday morning worship to be a stumbling block to anyone and set about to create something so that would never occur again.

When you make choices, do you realize that you are making them as a Christian, not just as an individual?  We are part of a larger community and the world watches us as we interact with them.

Remember these words of Paul’s – the kingdom of God isn't about drinking or eating, but about righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.