Apostolic Identity & Holiness Standards, Part 4

apostolic: of or relating to the Apostles of Jesus Christ.  What did the Apostles teach and practice?

Romans 14:17-21 NLT - 17 For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.  18 If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God, and others will approve of you, too. 19 So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up. 20 Don’t tear apart the work of God over what you eat. Remember, all foods are acceptable, but it is wrong to eat something if it makes another person stumble. 21 It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything else if it might cause another believer to stumble.

It may be easier to conform to a list of outward standards than it is to consistently obey your Biblically-informed conscience and the daily leading of God’s Spirit concerning lifestyle choices.  Legalistic religious systems give us the comfort of a checklist to mark off in order to feel spiritually secure as well as a badge of honor for our successful rule-keeping (which can make us feel superior to others).  It’s normal to want to feel secure and superior.  Unfortunately, our sinful nature will always find loopholes and workarounds even the longest list of religious rules.  No amount of rules for outward standards can cure our lust, our greed, or our pride - and in some instances they may mask or increase them (especially pride).  

Here are the two apostolic identity holiness standards for this passage of Scripture:  (1) Promote church unity.  (2) Build each other up in faith, love, and hope.  Too many Christians think it’s actually holier to promote division over their stricter standards and tear one another down even though these can be excommunication offenses if not repented of! (Titus 3:10; 1 Corinthians 5:11)  Others may think it’s OK for Christians to promote division by flaunting their liberties - things they know will offend others consciences. One example would be by going on social media and posting comments or pictures that you know will intentionally upset the consciences of your stricter brethren or possibly even shipwreck those who are new or young in faith.  This too would be a tearing down of Christ’s church rather than building it up - a serious sin.  We need the emphasis that Jesus and the early church had on blessing one another rather than isolating, condemning, ostracizing, or otherwise tearing down one another.   The bottom line is this:  we cannot obey the clear commands to promote church unity and build each other up if we are Pharisaically criticizing and condemning others.  Nor can we promote unity or build up one another if we are arrogantly flaunting our liberties in a way that shows no care about our fellow Christians.  

What are you willing to stop doing if you knew it would help promote church unity and build up others in faith, hope, and love for God?  What are you willing to lovingly tolerate if you knew it would help promote church unity and build up others in faith, hope, and love for God?  Perhaps the most serious question any Christian should ask before God:  Over what personal convictions, standards, or freedoms am I willing to “tear apart the work of God” [His Church]?