“So then, we must pursue what promotes peace and what builds up one another. Do not tear down God’s work because of food. Everything is clean, but it is wrong for a man to cause stumbling by what he eats. It is a noble thing not to eat meat, or drink wine, or do anything that makes your brother stumble. Do you have a conviction? Keep it to yourself before God. The man who does not condemn himself by what he approves is blessed. But whoever doubts stands condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from a conviction, and everything that is not from a conviction is sin.” Romans 14:19-23 (HCSB)
Shabbat in Israel is a beautiful thing to experience. From Sundown on Friday until Sundown Saturday, the whole nation pretty much shuts down. Almost no one is driving vehicles, and most businesses are closed, especially in Jerusalem.
There is a sense that strict observance of Shabbat in Israel is not voluntary. It seems to be forced upon the population by the Orthodox Jews, who are extremely zealous. If you disagree, just try and drive through the Orthodox neighborhoods on Shabbat! You will receive a hailstorm of rocks and bricks intended to force you to comply with their interpretations of God’s Shabbat commands.
That being said, I remember sitting in my Israeli hotel, enjoying a kosher instant coffee, and wishing the United States would shut down for a day every week…. a legislated day of rest. Growing up in the South, it was against the law to operate a business on Sunday. The political leaders felt it was good for the community if everyone went to church.
Pretty soon, people’s demand to buy and sell overrode the Southern lawmakers. Folks argued that their personal liberties (the right to do business whenever they liked) were being violated by a minority of elected “Jesus freaks.”
Romans 14 is broken down into two sections: The “Law of Liberty” and the “Law of Love.”
The “Law of Liberty” basically states that we are free to choose for ourselves when it comes to days of worship and regulations of what to eat and drink.
The “Law of Love” has a different take. It says that even though we are free in Messiah, there are times when it is necessary to forsake our personal liberties to encourage and build up the less mature believers in Jesus. That is, we are called to love people more than our liberties.
We should imitate Jesus: “Who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” Philippians 2:6-8 (NKJV)
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