Now we who are strong have an obligation to bear the weaknesses of those without strength, and not to please ourselves. – Romans 15:1
One theme that Paul pursues in his letter to the church at Rome concerns the strength that true freedom in Christ supplies to the ardent disciple. The Apostle taught that we are all free (in Christ) to ignore the rules and regulations of legalism (in his case, Judaism) and that this freedom was a great asset in the service of Christ’s kingdom. In his case, Paul emphasized that this freedom gave him the ability to move between cultures and, as he put it, “be all things to all men that by all means he might save some.”
At the same time, Paul was convinced that his freedom came with an obligation. Understanding that such freedom could produce its own brand of religious piety and superiority, which would run contrary to the Spirit of Christ, he could never allow it to become a license to offend. In fact, such freedom should at times be limited … or at least gently applied … when in the presence of those whose faith is still bound by their tradition.
Paul’s message should be received by all those who share in Christ’s Kingdom. Be pleasing to all without displeasing God.
Christianity, godliness, is far more than a checklist. Being “in Christ” is a relationship, and like all relationships it deserves disciplined maintenance, but never legalistic reductionism. – R. Kent Hughes