Jesus Creed

I was reared in the kind of Christian faith that made this category of “stumbling blocks” a big issue. There were lots of things we were told — mild way of saying it — not to do because it could become a “stumbling block.” So, let’s see what Paul says about this term.
Before I do that, let me finish some of my story with a little fun (so don’t take this too seriously). The two biggies in my little world were going to movies and drinking alcohol. Some people I knew — and they had loud voices — thought movies were hell-holes that were waiting to gobble up little Baptist boys, and the same thought drink of any sort, even a nice glass of Merlot (which name they probably didn’t even know), led in one short weekend to full-scale alcoholism. Let’s not be too funny here (I say to myself), there are problems with alcohol. But, full-scale wars against movies and sippin’ something with your evening meal is not the point of the biblical warnings. Anybody who knew that wine could make the heart glad — “red red wine, makes me happy all o’ the time” sings UB40 — knew the difference between measured drink and drunkenness. The world I grew up in didn’t, so it legislated these matters by appealing to “stumbling blocks.” What I’d like to say is that those good and well-meaning folks didn’t stumble over anything, least of all some yellowish drink in a beer can. Stumble … no way, they kicked those cans into the gutter. (And I know my dad is laughing right now as he reads this, and I don’t think he ever stumbled over a beer can.)
Now back to Paul, who got us going …
Living to the Lord, 14:10-12, also means keeping one eye on what you do and the other eye on the impact of your behavior on others. We live in an age of rights and a near obsession with individualism — everything becomes our choice and volunteerism. Paul would not like this development.
Paul’s logic is interesting: he takes the Gentile view of foods (or should we say the Christian view?) that all foods are clean, but that doesn’t mean — to extrapolate — Christians ought to be slamming ham sandwiches when with those who have scruples about ham.
Paul urges sensitivity and adjustment in light of sensitivity.
Principle: “For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (14:17). Wright shows the connection to 5:1-5 — chase it down, worth thinking about.
Now, let me put in an idea here: stumbling blocks are things we do that will trip up our brother or sister in the faith; they are not things with which our brother or sister has a tighter conscience on and that they can’t comprehend why we don’t. Therefore we shouldn’t do something because they don’t. Do you agree?

Previous Posts
Join the Discussion
comments powered by Disqus