Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Let Each Be Convinced in Their Own Mind

5 One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7 For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. 8 For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's. 9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. (Romans 14:5-9 (ESV)
Paul continues his discussion of balancing the weak and the strong. Paul seems to identify with the strong, but he wants them to bear with the weak. What he says is let each one be convinced in his own mind.
Be convinced in his own mind, but for himself and what is right for him, not in what is right for everyone. Again we have some concrete examples from the early church, days, and eating.
I always think of Halloween when this comes by. I suppose I also think of Sunday and the Sunday rest. I always observe Halloween, and I never rest on Sunday. Not in the worldly way of rest in any case. Growing up in Minnesota, it must have been the Lutheran character of the place where total indifference defers to “Well then lets have fun!” I don’t remember one kid having any trouble with Halloween, I don’t remember parents protesting it, or churches putting on Harvest festivals, Trunk or Treats, or Reformation parties. The kids put on costumes and paraded about town getting as much candy as they could. What could be wrong? So it was with horror that upon moving to California and asking a friend what he was going as for Halloween that I learned that it was a Satanic holiday and all this time my Lutheran pastor dad had been allowing me to worship Satan by bobbing for apples at a Halloween party in a Casper Costume. Looking back I think the argument could be made that this was true that year I dressed up in the “CHiPs” costume, but everyone wanted to be Ponch.  I think my parents tried to defer to “weaker” brothers in the congregation by not letting us dress up and go trick or treating that year. We had to go to a harvest festival at the church.
I will say this now. Things like this do not go over well. And it highlights some of the problems that arise when these sentiments are clumsily applied. I still remember this to this day. It made me resent my parents and the church. I’m not sure if I saw everything clearly then or if I do now. That Halloween was a satanic holiday seemed far-fetched to me, especially as I had celebrated it all the time with absolutely no invocation of Satan. That the whole town was participating in satanic debauchery by giving kids candy seemed preposterous. I saw my parents as hypocritical and the church as complicit in their hypocrisy, though it may have been the other way around. To this day, I counsel parents not to deny their kids fun in the name of Christ. If you have safety concerns that is one thing. But let them believe in Santa… Let them dress up and go trick or treating. (It’s the one holiday where you actually meet neighbors these days….)

As for Sabbath rest, or Sunday Rest. Well if you don’t want to work on that day that’s your choice. If I didn’t work you wouldn’t get your Sabbath rest at all. Because this was fulfilled by Christ lying dead in a tomb. He is our Sabbath rest. And the rest isn’t supposed to be work. What I mean by that, is it isn’t supposed to be a work either. It can become that right quick when we use Sabbath rest as a means to deny our kids going to the park, or ourselves the joy of getting a little house work done, perhaps preparing for a busy week ahead, or even a meal with family and friends, a walk or a hike that we would like to do.  Personally, getting the yard work done is rest. I have never seen a person stop believing in Christ because I mowed the lawn. I have seen people give up church all together because they were told they can’t do such things. So I ask, who is causing offense here? 

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