Person A: “Bro, you can’t eat meat sacrificed to idols. If you keep doing this then I cannot in good conscience be around you.”
Person B: “Sure, I can. I have freedom in Christ. Idols aren’t real. Check your facts, dude.”
Blah, blah, blah. Big fight. Threatens unity within the church. Paul writes Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 10 as a response to these types of debates.
Paul to person A: So this not eating food sacrificed to idols thing is more important to you than fellowship with a brother in Christ? In your quest to be ‘pure’ you’re willing to pass judgment on your brother?
Paul to person B: So this freedom to eat what you want thing is more important to you than fellowship with a brother in Christ? In your quest to be ‘free’ you’re willing to bring grief to your brother?
You realize, don’t you, that if food is the driving force in the life of either of these people they are going to continue to argue and will not receive Paul’s words? And do you also see that if Christ and His Kingdom is the driving force in the life of either of these people, they’ll receive Paul’s words gladly and be restored in fellowship?
But if I am still obsessed with food (or whatever the issue of the day), then I’m going to use Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 10 as a whip against my brother. If I’m a freedom guy then I’ll use it to whip out his being judgmental. If I’m a purity guy then I’ll use it to force my brother into obeying MY conscience instead of his own. But this text isn’t a whip…it’s a mirror. What am I valuing more than the kingdom?