May 15. Romans 14:17-20. Love and Liberty part 8: What Really Matters?

Romans 14:17-20. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. 19 So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. 20 Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God.

When it comes to our liberty in Christ we must constantly pause and ask ourselves what is really most important? Why did God give us the life of Christ? Why did he give us freedom in Christ? What’s the point? The answer is LOVE.

We have liberty so that we can use it to love others.

But so often we make liberty itself the ultimate thing. “I want to enjoy my freedoms.” “I have the freedom to do what I want.”

Yes, we DO have the freedom to do what we want. As Augustine said, “Love God and do what you will.” God has bounded our liberty by giving us an even deeper desire for love. God has changed our will. He as given us the desires of Christ. Yes, we want liberty, but we also want love, and all that comes with it – a kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy.

The kingdom that Christ has brought us into is not a man-made kingdom. It is not regulated by earthly traditions and rules about eating and drinking (and many other things). In fact, it is not centered on earthly things at all. Those things are just that – things. Things to be enjoyed but not things to rule our lives.

Rather, ours is a spiritual kingdom. One regulated by the Holy Spirit. It is the reign of God in our hearts. And yet, it is an objective kingdom. Not a place, but a reality nonetheless. One that, because we are in Christ, grants us righteousness, peace, and joy (a summation of Romans 1-8, or more specifically Romans 5:1-2).

Jack gets a glimpse into another kingdom. Will he find righteousness, peace, and joy?

When you received Christ you received his imputed righteousness by the Holy Spirit. With this came peace with God. Forgiveness. Reconciliation. Justification. And this peace allows us to one day enter into the joy of the Lord forever.

This New Covenant salvation is what give us our objective freedom in Christ. But we also right now can experience righteousness, peace, and joy subjectively as Christ lives in us by the Holy Spirit. What this means is that we can use our liberty to present ourselves for righteousness, to pursue peace, and to promote joy. How? By not lording our liberty over each other. By not judging and despising one another because one is Weak in faith and the other Strong in faith. By choosing to not do something you are free to do because it wouldn’t benefit your brother or sister in Christ.

In fact, why would we ever choose to cause another Christian to stumble if we live in a kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy and if that same kingdom lives in us? Rather, the one who has been accepted by God will live acceptable to God by serving Christ in this way – pursuing peace and mutual upbuilding.

Wait what? Serve Christ? I thought this was about the Strong serving the Weak? Or the Weak serving the Strong? Christians serving Christians?

Your right it is. Which is the same thing as serving Christ himself. To serve each other is to serve Christ. And to seek to destroy a Christian’s faith and conscience in the name of your own liberty is to seek to destroy God’s work of conforming us to Christ – Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God.

“To live is Christ” does mean you are free. But what will be your motivation in your freedom? What really matters? God’s kingdom? Or your fleshly kingdom? Will your liberty destroy love or will your liberty combine with love to produce the righteousness, peace, and joy of Christ that you already have in your heart?

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