For the kingdom of God is not a
matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness
and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Several years ago, the brakes on my wife Emily’s vehicle began making an abnormal sound. The company’s laboratory in Texas discovered the local mechanic had added transmission fluid to the brake system instead of brake fluid; they could make such a determination because their fluids contained special “identifiers.”
The Apostle Paul wrote about kingdom “identifiers” which mark the people of God. There were those in the Roman Church who had been exulting in their personal dietary regulations and religious observances: “One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables” (Rom. 14:2); “one person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike” (Rom. 14:5). Paul corrected those that insisted others practice inconsequential religious rituals and regulations: “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking” (Rom. 14:7).
It is wrong to elevate religious practices that are essentially indifferent, and make them essentially important. One can do many religious things without the Spirit’s help. But God’s kingdom is not of this world; his kingdom is not a matter of ceremonial observances and bodily regulations. These are shadows, not substance.
From the earliest time, Christians have often succumbed to practicing superficial exercises of spirituality, which they have interpreted as necessary to their faith. But they have not been content to keep the practices to themselves; they have insisted their fellow believers observe what they observe and practice what they practice.
Paul says those in God’s kingdom have special “identifiers” which set them apart from those who practice legal righteousness. God’s kingdom identifiers are “righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,” in contrast to man-made standards of righteousness. Where the Spirit is present and active, these identifiers will be readily observable. Where the Spirit is not actively present, there exists merely the shell of spiritual reality.
Taken from . . .
Renewed by the Spirit: 365 Daily Meditations
Ralph I. Tilley
copyright © 2016 Ralph I. Tilley
(May be copied for noncommercial purposes;
not to exceed 500 copies.)