Anyone Falling Over You?
Rom. 14:13 Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another.
Paul made the corporate nature of faith very clear. We are all interconnected in a sense that there is corporate responsibility and not just individual responsibility for faith. My actions (or inactions) can have a direct affect on another individual’s faith. The decisions I make may bring them closer to the Lord, or my actions may become a stumbling block to someone else. Paul’s challenge to us is to examine our own lives and see whether we are a stumbling block or hindrance to another’s faith.
Yesterday the scripture led us to consider that we may stumble over Jesus because we are not looking for him. We are too consumed with the things of this world or what is happening in our own lives. Today, however, we are challenged to consider ourselves as becoming a stumbling block to someone else and that is a much different picture.
My oldest brother struggled a great deal with his faith and, unfortunately there were “good” people that would seem to derail him from time to time. There was the “well-meaning” teacher who seemed to go out of her way to make him miserable. She was a German teacher and a “Christian” and yet, she felt quite threatened by this teenager who spoke German fluently. He needed to get credit for his German and had to take tests to prove his proficiency. Somehow this seemed to frustrate her because she wanted it to be clear that she was the teacher and she knew more than he did. She put obstacle after obstacle in his way — making it almost impossible for him to get the credit that he needed. He was dumbfounded that anyone could call themselves a “Christian” and act the way she did.
At the same time there were “Christian” young people in the youth group who broke into our home on a Sunday night while we were at church and ended up stealing his stereo and a few other of the nice things that he had been able to save up for and purchase.
To be quite honest, the list goes on and on and on and for many years he simply wandered away from the faith. People had become a stumbling block to him. Eventually it was the consistent faith of his family, loved ones and concerned individuals who brought him back to the Lord before he passed away, but his community had a huge impact on the spiritual direction of his life, both good and bad.
We have a responsibility that reaches far beyond our “personal” walk with Jesus Christ. Once we have been adopted into the family we have family responsibilities! Paul was talking about activities — such as eating meat offered to idols — which made others stumble. We are not to simply declare that we will do whatever we feel okay about doing because it doesn’t bother us! Our corporate responsibility takes us to a place where we have to examine the big picture and recognize that my decisions may affect the life of others. No one should be falling over me.
Lord, please help me to be sensitive to the members of your body and to their well-being. Amen.