I love a good plate of steak with steamed veggies at the side, a good dollop of moist and creamy mashed potato, and plenty of black pepper sauce. Yumm!!
“What has a good steak got to do with Faith?” you may ask. “Aren’t we supposed to be talking about Faith here?” My answer would be, “It has a lot to do with it… or at least it did … back in the early Christianity.”
If you read Paul’s letter to the Romans chapter 14, he wrote about some Christians who ate meat because they believed that it was ok to eat meat, while some others did not because they believed it was not ok to do so. Those carnivorous Christians were considered to have stronger faith because they understood that, meat or no meat, it did not matter (Praise God for this!!). But the vegetarian Christians were considered to have weaker faith. Not because they were weak. Rather, it’s because when they were pagan, they believed eating meat was wrong. So, when they became Christians, they still had that belief or tradition or culture, or at least, they did not know any better.
Now, is it wrong to be vegetarian? Not at all. And there is certainly nothing wrong with being carnivorous (again, Praise God for this!!).
Therefore, Paul exhorts them …
Romans 14:1 – 3
1 As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. 2 One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. 3 Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him
That’s about eating. You might think it is not relevant to our situation now. Interestingly, if you look at some matters closer to home, such as the preferred style of worship music, it’s not that irrelevant. For some of you, it matters whether you use a piano and an organ, or use a full band with a drum set and electric guitars. For others, it does not matter. The Bible does not say anything for or against either of them. Therefore, following Paul’s exhortation, one must follow their conscience and not condemn or look down on the other.
There are other examples, such as eating organic or non-organic food, recycling plastic bags or not, entering into some competition or some lucky draw, watching certain movies, buying gadgets, entering a casino, reading romantic novels, etc. Some Christians have their own convictions on certain matters, and both sides might not be sinning, since there are some matters that God does not really specifically condemn or condone. So, for those matters, you can believe in one aspect, but do not let your faith condemn or look down on others.
Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:2 puts it very nicely: “If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.”
So, as Faith without deed is dead, Faith without love is also nothing. In fact, if you think you have stronger faith than someone else, it is your duty to teach him so that he understands more. And if you have weaker faith, it is your duty to search the Bible and learn more. That’s why it is important to meet together as a community of believers and spur one another in faith (Heb 10:22-24).
So, let’s recap what faith is.
Faith is: …
Believing that God is who He says He is,
and He will do what He says He will do.
As a result, we do what He says we should do,
and we don’t do what He says we must not do.
Each book of the Bible is rarely written for individuals. It is almost always written to be applied in the community of believers. It is the same with Faith. You cannot apply your faith without considering your fellow brothers and sisters. Therefore, as much as God takes pleasure in those who takes Him at His word and obeys His Word, He also delights in His children loving one another and spurring one another to grow in Faith. Because we show the world that we are His disciples not by how big our faith is, but rather by loving one another (John 13:34-35). So, have faith, trust God, obey Him, and love one another.