Bringing Peace to Dietary and Other Discords
One of my go-to apps is the Bible app by YouVersion which offers a myriad of different Bible translations. Among my favorites for personal reading are the NASB, NIV, and the CEV for kids.
Today I came across another version I had missed before called the EasyEnglish Bible 2018. One of the first chapters I read when testing a new translation is Romans 14. I like this chapter for a number of reasons and the KJV version is pretty tough for me to understand so I like seeing how others have translated it.
I think of this chapter as the keystone for resolving the discord between those that profess different dietary choices such as vegans, vegetarians, omnivores, carnivores, etc.
I think that this is a chapter for everyone because the principles taught here go far beyond how we treat people that eat differently than we do.
Romans 14, EASY
“It is difficult for some Christians to trust God completely about everything. You should accept people like that as your friends. Do not argue with them about what they think is right or wrong. Some people believe that they may eat all kinds of food. But other people are not so sure, so they eat only vegetables. People who eat anything must not think that they are better than people who eat only vegetables. Also, people who eat only vegetables must not judge other people who eat anything. They are not doing anything wrong, because God himself has accepted them.
God is the master of all believers and they are his servants. You do not have authority to judge someone else’s servant. The servant’s own master will decide if he has done well or he has done something wrong. And he will serve his master well, because the Lord is able to help him to do that.
Some people think that certain days are special and more important than other days. Other people think that all days are the same. Each person should decide what seems right to him. A person who makes a certain day special does that in order to respect the Lord. A person who eats all kinds of food does that in order to respect the Lord. He thanks God for the food that he eats. A person who refuses to eat certain foods also does that in order to respect the Lord. And he also thanks God.
None of us lives only to please ourselves. And we do not die to please ourselves. While we live, we want to please the Lord. And when we die, we want that to please the Lord also. So, while we live, or if we die, we continue to belong to the Lord. Christ died and then he became alive again. That happened so that he could be the Lord of all people, those who have died and those who are still alive.
So then, if you eat only vegetables, you must not judge other believers. Also, if you eat anything, you must not think that you are better than other believers. Remember that all of us will have to stand in front of God. He will decide whether we have done what is right or wrong. This is written in the Bible:
‘The Lord God says,
“As surely as I live, this will certainly happen:
Everyone will go down on their knees in front of me.
Everyone will praise me that I am God.” ’
So, each of us will have to explain to God about the things that we have done.
So, we must no longer judge other believers. Instead, you must decide never to bring trouble to another believer. Do not cause them to do something wrong. As for me, I am sure that we may eat any kind of food. God does not think that any food is dirty. The Lord Jesus has shown me that that is true. But someone else may believe that it is wrong to eat certain food. For that person, it would be wrong to eat that kind of food.
You should not cause another believer to be sad because of what you eat. If you do make him sad, then you are not really loving him. Remember that Christ died on behalf of that person. So, do not let your food make him turn away from God. You may think that something is good. But still you should not do it, if other people will say that it is bad.
We belong to God’s people and he is our King. The things that we eat and drink are not really important to him. This is important: We should do what is right. We should have peace in our minds. And we should be truly happy. God’s Holy Spirit helps us to live like that. If anyone serves Christ in that way, they will make God happy. And other people will respect them.
So then, we should try to live in a way that brings peace. We should try to help each other so that we become stronger as God’s people. Do not bring trouble to someone because of the food that you eat. Do not destroy what God has done in the life of another believer. God lets us eat all kinds of food. But do not eat anything that will cause another believer to do something wrong. It is good not to do anything that might cause another believer to do something wrong. That includes if you eat meat or if you drink wine.
What you believe about these things should be a secret between yourself and God. You should do what you have decided is right for you. Do not feel guilty about what you eat. Then God will bless you. But someone else may not be sure whether it is right to eat certain kinds of food. If that person does eat that kind of food, then he shows that he is guilty. He has not trusted God that it is right for him to do that. Whatever things we do, we must trust God about them. If we do not trust God that something is right, then it is a sin.” https://www.bible.com/2079/rom.14.1-23.easy
It is very easy to see what we perceive to be flaws in others. Jesus taught us to judge people by their fruits and so we attempt this by looking at what people do.
I find in these things something of a paradox rather than a contradiction. Jesus often taught in a way where you really had to wrestle with the teachings to figure out what to do or think.
Paul is teaching that we need to really have more patience with one another. We cannot forget that we are all loved by God and in turn express our love to him in different ways.
These teachings have helped me navigate the difficulties of having dietary preferences that are very different from my wife, kids, family, and friends.
In my heart, my desire is to honor God and I know that everyone else around me feels similarly. This is what is important. How we honor God will be as different as the individuals and their circumstances are.
We must not be like the Pharisees and think that just because we do differently than others that this makes us better than them. This is the path to pride and what destroys individuals and nations.
Paul says, “What you believe about these things should be a secret between yourself and God.” which is probably good counsel. However, I think that it is fine to express our opinions and have a dialog just so long as you stop short of condemning others and causing contention.
I think that it is good to share and teach, as long as we remember what is really important and that is the worth of souls.