Keep Your Focus

Photo Credit: Tanakawho

Romans 14:1-12

Welcome those whose faith is different, and get off their case about their foibles. Some people will eat anything, others are vegetarian. So what! Vegetarian or not, don’t look down on each other. They’re God’s children. They’re not your employees to boss around. They’re God’s and God will deal with them; it’s between them and God, and God will set them right. They’ll be ok.

So someone thinks of certain days as special while another sees every day alike. People have their own convictions. And if they have sacred observances, or they eat certain foods or if they fast, as long as it’s for Jesus it’s all good so far as Jesus is concerned.

We don’t live or die for ourselves. Either way, our purpose is Jesus’ purpose, and we are in God’s hands. This is how it was with Jesus who died and lives: now we’re his, dead or alive.

What makes you think you can judge or look down on a brother or sister when before God we’re all equal. Like the scripture says, “As I live, says God, everyone will bow to me, and everyone will praise me.” In the end, everyone is accountable to God.

Here’s Paul’s advice about micromanaging and criticizing other people’s lives: Don’t.

And it’s good advice. Because giving other people unsolicited advice about what they should do, or how they should behave, or what they should think or believe is, to put it bluntly, none of your business. And, worse yet, as long as you’re preoccupied with the shoulds and oughts of others, you’re not paying attention to what you’re supposed to be doing.

Each of us has only so much time to do what is important for us to do. When it’s up, that’s it. Paul calls it belonging to God, dead or alive. Along with our time comes responsibility to make the most of it. And whether we live well or poorly with what we’re dealt is entirely up to us. Everyone’s impressed by the 12-year old with cancer that does incredible things. No child should die of cancer. But we’d be better off if we lived like we were that child. And don’t say you can’t. If that 12-year old can, you can.

All these other things are distractions, excuses, ways to blame someone else for our own failure to live. In Paul’s church , it was what people were or weren’t eating, when people worship, and where, and how. It could just as easily be arguments over hair length, earrings, or tattoos. It could be whether to stand or sit for gospel readings. It could be red carpet verses blue carpet, chairs verses pews. It could be about divorce, abortion, or same sex partners. The argument extends to all the things that people get so uptight over in church life that end up paralyzing any meaningful work or ministry or mission.

Worth noting: Church people aren’t the only folks who get stuck by paying more attention to other people than to themselves. The temptation to be a busy-body is universal, and busy-bodies are universally unwelcome. Better to keep your focus on the only person you really can do anything about: yourself.