Celebrate Freedom: Romans 14:5-6
“5) One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind. 6) He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God. Romans 14:5-6
This text highlights the fact that there is a lot of freedom in the Christian life. The Old Testament was filled with special days and even weeks set aside for religious ceremonies. Everything from the Sabbath, to the Passover and the feast of booths were carefully observed. These are just a few. The book of Esther also established the Feast of Purim. (Esther 9:20-22)
These were significant celebrations for the Jewish people and great teaching opportunities that captured Jewish history. But as the gospel spread to non-Jewish nations around the world, mandating the keeping of Jewish ceremonies that captured their historical story became burdensome and not so relevant. This forced a huge dilemma on the early church. Which days and Jewish holidays from the Old Testament should be forced on Gentile believers and which were not necessary?
Another challenge became equally as difficult. Should the Christian church start its own holidays to capture its history? For example, should the church worship on the Sabbath to celebrate the finished work of Creation which was the last day of the week, or should they worship on Resurrection Day which was the first day of the week? This day marked the finish of the new creation based on the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. This was a huge issue in the early church that was not easily settled. Of course, there was also the issue of Christmas and Easter. Should these become formal Christian holidays? The history they try to capture is paramount to Christianity.
Thankfully, the text we are looking at today addressed this issue in a very unique way. Rather than starting a whole new series of religious ceremonies and holidays, the early church granted liberty and freedom of choice. It left it open for every believer to worship God with freedom of conscience in these area’s. They were free to worship God on the last day of the week, the first day of the week… or both. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty. (2 Corinthians 3:17)
Satan has used these issues to divide the church. Early in my Christian walk, I used to take sides in these discussions and some even became a bit heated. Now I just bless those who differ from me and praise God that they are seeking Him. In fact, I have no problem joining them in worship and celebrating Jesus. I have had great times worshipping with Messianic Jewish congregations around the world. They have insights into the Old Testament that put me to shame.
So what was Paul saying in this text? I believe he was granting amazing freedom and liberty in putting Christian ceremony and worship together. You have the freedom to be liturgical or non liturgical. You can be traditional or non traditional. You can worship with old hymns or new worship sons. You can use a variety of instruments or sing without any. You can meet in a cathedral, in a church with pews, in a pole barn style building with chairs, in a home church or under a mango tree. It doesn’t matter!
It might surprise you, but there is no real pattern for a Christian worship service, wedding ceremony or funeral given in the Bible. As a pastor, this used to frustrate me. When I started doing world missions my small box was shattered. I’ve seen and been involved in some of the most glorious worship services and wedding ceremonies you could ever imagine. Africa and India stand out as the most unique. Leave your watch at home, it means nothing to them.
To summarize, love and worship Jesus with all you heart, soul and mind with great sincerity. Welcome creativity and variety. Preach and teach the solid Word of God and invite the Holy Spirit into your gatherings. Expect worship to be a two way venue. Praise and lift up Jesus and expect the Holy Spirit to speak to His people. Celebrate freedom in Christ within the bounds of holiness.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global
Celebrate Freedom: Romans 14:5-6