Romans 14 – Consider Others

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Throughout the New Testament, Paul teaches about the grace and subsequent freedom that we have in Jesus Christ.  Those teachings are almost always followed by a discourse regarding what to do with that freedom, and what not to do as well.  All of it, however, is ultimately related to Jesus’ command to love one another and Jesus Christ loved them.

Here Paul addresses one of the major themes of freedom and love as it pertains to other believers.  He recognizes the fact that not everyone is in the same place when it comes to the strength and maturity of their faith.  It would be very easy for those who have fully embraced the freedom they received in Christ to tout it in a way that could be harmful to those who are not in the same place and whom the Holy Spirit is still working on.  Wielding our faith and our freedom in this way can be quite dangerous.

While the notion of freedom releases us from the bondage of sin and the law, it is not a license to run roughshod over those in our lives, whether Christian or not.  Paul says very clearly here and in the previous chapter that loving the other is the primary lens through which we act on our freedom.  We are not to judge each other.  Instead, we are called to live in a way that leads to the building up of our brothers and sisters so that together we will become stronger!

At the end of the day, Paul reminds us that our accountability is not to each other, but to the Lord before whom we are all equal.  Therefore, since we are free, let us use that freedom to love and edify each other to the glory of God.

Luke 2 – Childhood

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Childhood is a wonderful, blissful, and innocent time of life.  As an adult, I often find myself longing for the days of childhood when responsibility and expectations were not heavy, and when days of play and imagination were long and fun.  There is nothing more distinctly human than the imagination and exploration that accompanies childhood play.

The Bible doesn’t record much of Jesus’ childhood life apart from the circumcision, a flight to Egypt, the move to Nazareth, and a moment that is recorded during Jesus’ 12th year.  Yet, it is clear that, when Jesus returns to Nazareth later in His ministry, those present recognize Him.  It does, however, beg the question, what happened in Jesus’ childhood?

Luke’s Gospel is largely centered around the theme of Jesus’ humanity, a vitally important part of who Jesus is as Messiah.  The image we see here in Luke 2 is not, however, a blissfully ignorant child, unaware of His true identity, but rather a “Young Messiah” who is distinctly aware of who He is and what He is called to.

It is interesting that Jesus sits with the teachers and religious leaders, those He would be rebuking later on in His ministry, not teaching them (which He certainly had every right to do being God), but asking questions.  Even Jesus asked questions, sought answers, and desired to learn more.

This is one of the main things that happens in childhood.  We learn a lot during our formative years.  Scripture talks about believers as having the “faith of a child.”  I wonder if part of what this means is that we are always seeking to learn more and grow more.  Human development is marked by milestones of growth, perhaps faith development is also this way, always looking forward to greater, deeper, maturity and relationship?