What Can We Eat? Answers About Liberty (Part 2)
June 13, 2021
Seventy-seven years ago, 76 POWs held at the German Stalag Luft III camp fled that camp through a tunnel they had dug under the camp to a location outside the fence of the camp. They had actually dug three tunnels — Tom, Dick, and Harry — but only “Harry” was completed. The tunnel was 28 feet deep and 336 feet long, supported by wooden slats from the beds of the prisoners. While the plan was for 200 men to escape on the night of March 24, 1944, only 76 made it through the tunnel before the Germans discovered it. Of the 76 that made it through the tunnel, only three made it to freedom without being re-captured. Of the 73 who were recaptured, 50 were shot to death by the Gestapo under orders from Adolph Hitler.
At a memorial service for the event a few years ago, the RAF’s Air Vice Marshal Stuart Atha said that the event that was known as “The Great Escape” was “an extraordinary chapter” in history. He said the escapees were “an exceptional band of airmen whose bravery, ingenuity and resilient spirit set an example for all time…they were not prisoners of war — they were prisoners at war.” [my emphasis]
History is filled with the stories of people who have gone to extreme lengths to secure freedom and liberty. That is also true of believers and their quest to exercise spiritual freedoms as well. But how can we exercise our freedoms in a way that demonstrates our liberty, while not compelling others to act the way we do? And how can we exercise our freedoms in a way that maintains spiritual unity in the church? That’s Paul’s concern in Romans 14, which we can summarize this way:
Use your individual freedoms as a means of preserving the corporate unity of the Body.
Our personal freedom is always subordinate to our corporate responsibilities. Our commitment to the unity of the church dominates this section. We want to act so unity is preserved. So in these verses, Paul provides five instructions for the use of our liberties.
- The Reality of Differences (vv. 1-2)
- One Attitude to Guide Our Different Choices: Accept One Another (v. 1a)
- One Caution in Making Different Choices: Don’t Discriminate (v. 3b)
- One Principle to Remember in Our Different Choices: God is (and will) Judge (v. 4)
- Three Guides for Making Our Different Choices (vv. 5-9)
- Do what you do with confidence (v. 5)
- Do what you do with gratitude (v. 6)
- Do what you do for the Lord (vv. 7-9)
Download the rest of this sermon on Romans 14:1-9.
The audio will be posted on the GBC website by tomorrow.