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Declaring Things Unclean Creates Stumbling Blocks

The TRANSFIGURED manuscript is out with advance readers and my editor, so I'm in waiting mode. Thought I'd share a devotional entry from it while I wait.

One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand. You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. It is written: “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’” So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God. 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. (Romans 14:2-4, 10-13 NIV)

Reading Paul’s letters can result in a great deal of confusion. At one moment, he chides churches about things like women wearing gold necklaces, and the next minute offers up glowing words of encouragement and good news. Much of this contrast arises from contextual issues which Paul needed to address. But it’s also possible that one of the thorns in Paul’s flesh was the siren call of Phariseeism. Details of the law were drilled into him and he was one of the elite holders of all that rigidity. It had to have been challenging for him to negotiate between his years of training and this new thing offered by Christ.

We see that struggle throughout the epistles, and because of it, we need to remember to filter his words through the lens of Jesus. Today’s message doesn’t need much filtering, because it aligns so closely to what we see Jesus saying and doing throughout the gospels.

Many people today do not understand gender complexity. They’ve been taught, as Paul was, that God established rules which were more important than compassion, mercy, and justice. They view gender as falling into those rules. Some of these people are more fully able to walk as Christ showed us, and tread gently in this topic. Others are more vocal, more deprecating, and more likely to wield hammers of law.

When you encounter the latter who don’t know how to accept your gender identity, expression, or performance, offer them this passage. Tell them you will pray for them to lay down the burden of law which has become a thorn in the very flesh of Christ, and embrace God’s freedom.

We’re not broken. We’re not in the wrong bodies. We’re not inadequate. We’re not lesser. We’re not unwanted. We’re not fraudulent. We’re not undesirable. That’s all just a set of lies we tell to soothe the experience of the prisons we put ourselves in. Agnostic Zetetic

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