Imago Romans – 14:1-12 – Adiaphora

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Romans 14:1-12 – Do Not Judge Another
Welcome those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of quarreling over opinions. Some believe in eating anything, while the weak eat only vegetables. Those who eat must not despise those who abstain, and those who abstain must not pass judgment on those who eat; for God has welcomed them. Who are you to pass judgment on servants of another? It is before their own lord that they stand or fall. And they will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make them stand.

Some judge one day to be better than another, while others judge all days to be alike. Let all be fully convinced in their own minds. Those who observe the day, observe it in honor of the Lord. Also those who eat, eat in honor of the Lord, since they give thanks to God; while those who abstain, abstain in honor of the Lord and give thanks to God.

We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. 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. For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.

Why do you pass judgment on your brother or sister? Or you, why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written,

“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,
and every tongue shall give praise to God.”
So then, each of us will be accountable to God.

—-

I first heard the word Adiaphora when I was in seminary. It comes out of the stoic philosophic tradition and has been brought into theology – referring to those things that are not explicitly allowed or forbidden – things outside of what the stoics called “Moral Law.” Of course, what falls into what would be considered adiaphora is a matter of debate amongst different groups, but the concept is there. I heard a lot of adiphora in this passage as Paul talked about who is eating what and who judges a certain day to be holier than another, etc. That’s where this picture comes from – its a combination of edits of a single image – ranging from beauty to a not-so-beautiful representation of it. Its emblematic of how I see this at work in our lives – one person can see something as beautiful and another can see it as ugly or destructive when they are looking at the very same thing. The challenge in this of course is what falls into the adiaphora categories, but if we start with the place Paul comes to in this passage – with Christ at the center, “If we live, we live to the Lord. If we die, we die to the Lord. So whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.” That’s a pretty good starting place.

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