Unlimited: Faith and Food
Sep 26, 2023 262
One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables (Romans 14:2).
A healthy diet is very important for everyone, and followers of Jesus should make choices that honour God. However, the problem arises when people, whether explicitly or implicitly, make diet a spiritual matter or try to make spiritual distinctions between people based on what they eat or don’t eat.
It’s a natural religious tendency to try to make our faith centrally about performance: the things we do and don’t do. That’s what the Jews did in the time of Jesus and Paul. One of the ways this worked back then was by having strict rules about what you should eat.
Paul means those whose faith in Christ is weak and so they focus on issues of external behaviour instead.
The apostle Paul here classes what we eat as a “disputable matter” (Rom. 14:1): something about which we should not spend time quarrelling. As he is going to also write a little later in his letter:
…the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking (Rom 14:17a).
This isn’t really about vegetarianism or meat-eating. Instead, it is about accepting others irrespective of these things.
When Paul talks about those “whose faith is weak”, and by implication, those whose faith is strong, he isn’t referring to those whose faith is better or worse than others. Instead, he means those whose faith in Christ is weak and so they focus on issues of external behaviour instead. It’s still an issue today.
Read Romans 14:2 in its context. How is your faith related to how you make your lifestyle choices?