Thursday, April 05, 2007

Something Fishy Going On?

I was having an interesting discussion with my dad last night.

When it comes to church and belief, Dad is much more traditional than I am. I'll accept some traditions... but I don't tend to follow just for their own sake.

I was asked if I wanted fish and chips tomorrow... never one to pass up a free meal, I of course said yes. Mum and Dad were both raised in the custom of not eating meat on Good Friday. Similarly, they never served either me or my sister meat on Good Friday, as we grew up. Last night I asked Dad why he thought that the tradition had been put in place. He wasn't entirely sure... but nonetheless he saw it as an important act of personal reverence on his part. If I were to guess, I would say that it is done out of respect for the fact that Jesus took on flesh and blood and died for us. Meat is flesh and blood... so to abstain from eating meat is an acknowledgement of what Jesus did.

I probably won't eat any meat tomorrow, but more because I don't want to cause concern for other people. As a Christian, I personally believe that Jesus sacrifice holds daily and eternal significance to me. I don't necessarily subscribe to the importance of festivals. every day is a gift from God... and should be treated as such. I believe in what Paul taught in his writings to the Romans:

Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. One man's faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge someone else's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.

For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God's judgment seat. It is written:

" 'As surely as I live,' says the Lord,
'every knee will bow before me;
every tongue will confess to God.'"
So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.

Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way. As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean. If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died. Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.

Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.

So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves. But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.

What Paul writes here is amazing... it can be applied to so many different facets of the Christian life. If more people applied this passage to their lives, there would be a lot less disagreement among believers. What he is basically saying is that there are bound to be minor things that we see and do differently... but we should not impose our personal spirituality... the ways in which we worship or practice our belief on other Christians.
I really encourage you to consider what aspects of your faith that are not mandatory... you may be unnecessarily burdening other people with.

1 comment:

  1. I've not met anyone else who does not eat fish on Good Friday - seriously. My parents (British) have always done the fish and chips on Good Friday and I have found myself adhering to this, not out of religiousity or legalism or because 'they don't eat meat', but because it witnesses with me. Anyway Good Friday was a day of many trials, tribulations and dramas for us (spiritual battle we're sure) and I ended up eating some chicken and feeling a peace, knowing that God understood my heart and my situation. Anyway, the point was to say that I really enjoyed your posting on this very subject.


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