A couple of days ago, I share with you from Romans 14 how the stronger, more mature believer interacts with the weaker. Today, we need to see how the weaker brother reacts.
Again, allow me to define ‘weaker’ in this context. Physical specimens possess strength, well, physically but this does not mean they would be ‘spiritual’ specimens. The logic then follows that even though you may not be able to lift the bar bench pressing, you may have a faith that moves mountains.
Being strong in the faith does not necessarily come with age. I wish I could find this quote (help, anyone?) of where John Piper said that you could be 80 years old and pimply-faced spiritually, having not grown out of adolescence. This mindset usually comes with the ‘getting saved’ churches that fail to recognize the ‘being discipled’ aspect of the Great Commission.
Playing off Piper’s quote, just because you ‘walked an aisle’ (if you don’t know what that means, ask your Baptist grandparents) many years ago does not mean that time and inertia make you mature.
The context here is one of younger Christians coming into the church, yet still carrying certain convictions that pressed deep down from their former religious practices (1 Corinthians 8:7). As such, because of convictions the weaker Christian had, they would use that as a test of faith to impose of the stronger believers. And as we saw last time, the stronger Christians would look down on the weaker because of those same convictions. Quarrels would ensue over non-moral objections and opinions, adding more law on to the law that God already gave.
So, having addressed how the stronger Christian should behave and interact toward the weaker, now we look at how the weaker Christian’s responsibility.
- Recognize that the stronger Christian is your sibling in Christ. Repeatedly, Paul brings the weaker (and stronger) believer to the work of Christ. Christ died for all of his elect (Romans 14:9), and all his elect will stand before the judgment seat of Christ (Romans 14:12). God will make both the weak and the strong to stand (Romans 14:4). The central aspect of our faith is not eating and drinking, but the work Christ has accomplished in us on our behalf (Romans 14:17).
- Realize you have much to learn. Youngsters and teenagers often believe they know more than their parents. In some cases, that may be so (especially when they come home working on Algebra, something I forgot 25 years ago). But when it comes to life, maturity, decision making, and the like—children believe they have it down, while we parents look on and pray for them that they will see their own limitations and need to grow. And that’s the ticket to maturity—recognizing you need to grow. Now, do stronger Christians have it all figured out? No! But that’s what truly makes them mature: they know they still have much to learn. Yes, as Romans 14 tells us, “It is unclean for anyone who thinks it is unclean” (Romans 14:14), but we must be willing as a weaker Christian to realize that our views need adjusting and transforming to the true reality of Christ, not merely our reality.
- Repent of any attitudes that feed and propel your desire to stay as you are and make others be as you are. Authenticity is an important watchword in various Christian circles. “It’s who I am, and that’s how God likes me.” The problem is, it doesn’t promote growth. Brett McCracken puts it right: “Our notion of authenticity should not primarily be about affirming each other in our struggles—patting each other on the back as we share about porn struggles while enjoying a second round of beers at the local pub Bible study. Rather, authenticity comes when we collectively push each other, by grace, in the direction of Christ-likeness.” We must be striving toward holiness, not merely our own personal spiritual comfort.
What think ye?