"But, except for these special cases, I’m not going to walk around on eggshells worrying about what small-minded people might say; I’m going to stride free and easy, knowing what our large-minded Master has already said. If I eat what is served to me, grateful to God for what is on the table, how can I worry about what someone will say? I thanked God for it and he blessed it!
So eat your meals heartily, not worrying about what others say about you—you’re eating to God’s glory, after all, not to please them. As a matter of fact, do everything that way, heartily and freely to God’s glory. At the same time, don’t be callous in your exercise of freedom, thoughtlessly stepping on the toes of those who aren’t as free as you are."
I keep coming back to Paul when issues like gay marriage or science or women in leadership threaten to tear the church apart (and threaten to make me lose my mind/lose my voice lecturing the people with whom I disagree). I want to live freely and confidently into my convictions on these issues, but without wielding my position as a sort of weapon over the other. I also don't want to walk around on eggshells, worrying other people are going to judge me as unfaithful or heretical because I support gay marriage and believe global warming is real. Paul writes beautifully about striking a balance between living without worry over human opinion on your beliefs and living without pride or aggression in the practical day-to-day application of those beliefs.
With a few exceptions for essentials (including Jesus as the fullest revelation we have of God, and, increasingly for me, support of women in leadership positions...), I want to find a way to participate and belong to communities that come to a variety of conclusions on pressing "issues" for the church right now--which may differ in specifics from the issues of Paul's day, i.e. food dedicated to idols and circumcision, but are surprisingly similar in their emotional weight and power to divide communities. It is crucial we find a way to be together--resisting the urge to "fix" or persuade--and practice living out our varying convictions with love and gentleness toward one another.
"Forget about deciding what’s right for each other. Here’s what you need to be concerned about: that you don’t get in the way of someone else, making life more difficult than it already is. I’m convinced—Jesus convinced me!—that everything as it is in itself is holy. We, of course, by the way we treat it or talk about it, can contaminate it.
If you confuse others by making a big issue over what they eat or don’t eat, you’re no longer a companion with them in love, are you? These, remember, are persons for whom Christ died. Would you risk sending them to hell over an item in their diet? Don’t you dare let a piece of God-blessed food become an occasion of soul-poisoning!...
Cultivate your own relationship with God, but don’t impose it on others."