Throughout Romans chapter 14 Paul urges believer’s to accept one another… “without quarreling over disputable matters.” “God has accepted them,” he says, and asks, “Who are you to judge …? …Each… should be fully convinced in their own mind. …why do you judge your brother or sister?…each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.”
In Paul’s day one of these “disputable matters” was about which day to keep holy: the traditional Jewish Sabbath (Saturday) or the new Christian “first day of the week” (Sunday) in recognition of the day of Christ’s resurrection. Some Jewish believers held to the former while others held to the latter.
Another “disputable matter” had to do with whether or not it was OK to eat meat previously offered to an idol. A meat would be offered in ceremonial sacrifice to an idol, but of course the idol being made of stone or wood could not consume the meal, so it was afterwards sold for cheap in “the shambles,” a sort of discount back alley of the markets. This meat would often prove a bargain, so the question was whether or not it was appropriate for a Christian to purchase it.
In both cases it was Paul’s strong advice that Christians should not be quarreling over these matters, not judging one another based on their own particular preferences. He writes,
“Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. …do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil. / Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” (Rom. 14)
It’s a funny thing about disputable matters: either option could be “right” or “wrong” depending upon the individual believer’s conscience. Crossing the line determined by one’s conscience is the real transgression.
I believe this is the way we should view those who feel comfortable receiving a vaccine and those who do not. Though statistics appear to indicate that the vaccinated are safer from harm, a brother or sister may by reason of conscience feel so strongly against it that they are willing to accept that risk. To force them to cross this line would be to force them to transgress. Others may feel so strongly that they should protect their bodies as “temples of the Spirit” by accepting the vaccine that to force them not to would be to force them to transgress.
So what are we to do? Beyond perhaps a little educating or reassurance Paul’s priority is this: “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” As always, the Lord’s primary interest is in what goes on in one’s heart.
To hear this past Sunday’s message, go to the Facebook page of Lincoln Baptist Church, or link to the livestream from the church website.