If you grew up in certain denominations or religious circles, you would think that the Christian life is entirely black and white. That everything is as easy as love others and don’t murder. Most of the Christian life is very basic, and we end up complicating things. We make things harder than they need to be. At the same time there are gray areas in the Christian life.
The first thing we might think to ourselves is why does God work that way? Why doesn’t God just make everything simple and black and white so we know exactly what He wants from us in every circumstance in life. First, I think it is because we would need a trailer to carry our Bibles on. God gives us principles in life, and then we are to take them, and apply it to a variety of circumstances. This condenses God’s thoughts on everything. It actually allows us to know fewer things about God, and then use them in our Christian walk.
Second, I think that the reason God doesn’t tell us every step to take is that He does not want us to be robots. He wants us to form a relationship with Him. Sometimes, He wants us to study Him deeply in order to find the answer, not just use Scripture as a textbook. He desires us to talk to Him to through prayer, and seek answers in that manner.
The problem (from a human, not God perspective) with gray areas is they often end up being the things which Christians disagree about the most. They turn into controversies, and end up splitting up churches or denominations. This is not the only way churches have issues, but can be listed at the top.
In Romans 14 we find such issues. We have Christians who are disagreeing about things. What are they disagreeing about? The main topic is whether or not they are supposed to be eating meat. This is actually deeper than it seems. We are not talking about vegans and meat lovers in some fight over whether or not meat should be consumed. We have to understand the context of what is going on.
What we find out is that the meat being discussed is found at the marketplace, not raised by these Christians. The question is whether these foods were or were not “unclean.” Now I’m not talking about whether or not these “grocers” were paying off the board of health. We are talking about a much deeper spiritual idea.
Unclean foods were a part of the Old Testament religious system set up by God. You can study Leviticus 11 to see which animals would fall under this sections. Paul taught in Romans 6:14 that Christians in the time of Christ were no longer under the Old Testament Law. This is a large discussion for another time, but we are not talking about the ten commandments (the moral law) but the ceremonial laws and the civil laws which are no longer a part of what Christians must practice.
Others believe what Romans 14 is referring to is whether Christians should eat the meat because the meat at the market may have been first sacrificed to pagan gods. Some Christians believed that eating that meat was participating in pagan worship. This is the “gray area” they are discussing.
We have many gray and controversial areas in the Christian life today, do we not? Areas that God has not been 100% clear on, and Christians disagree about. Christians disagree about forms of worship, types of music, politics, how to educate their children, how to discipline their children, and the list goes on.
In the passage we see there are gray areas. We saw that some Christians believe it was their God given ability to eat the meat, and others were not able to eat any meats or certain meats.
We see later in verse six that there was a second gray area disagreement. Some people believed that Christians should worship on Saturday, which was part of the Jewish Sabbath, and other Christians believed that you should worship corporately on Sunday because that was the day Christ rose from the grave.
The only thing I want to prove in this first part of this series is that there are areas of the Christian life where Christians do not agree. I want you to know that there are times where God has not been specifically clear on things, and that God wants us to get to know Him better. There are times where two Christians could choose different choices and both be right.
Paul even notes that each of these parties, when it came to this issue, were able to make choices apposed to each other and both honor God. Romans 14:6 ESV says “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.” We are not saying that God allows us to choose what is right and wrong in every circumstance. Most things in Scripture are clear, but there are gray areas in life.
The next couple weeks we will be discussing how we are to disagree as Christians. What do you see in Romans 14 of how we disagree as Christians? Do you see anything in the passage of how you can decide what is right when it comes to gray areas? What does the passage say about who gets to decide within a Christian group of when we should or should not partake of gray areas?
Thanks for taking time to read this Maddening Theology post. If you enjoyed this content you can find Pastor Tim’s sermons at www.cornerstoneforestcity.org. You can also join us at 520 Marion St. Browndale, PA 18421 on Sundays at 10:45 AM. To make following the blog easier you can also register. You can also join us on Facebook at Cornerstone Forest City. Also, don’t forget to download our APP on iTunes or Googleplay.