Accept other believers who are weak in faith, and don’t argue with them about what they think is right or wrong. For instance, one person believes it’s all right to eat anything. But another believer with a sensitive conscience will eat only vegetables. Those who feel free to eat anything must not look down on those who don’t. And those who don’t eat certain foods must not condemn those who do, for God has accepted them. Who are you to condemn someone else’s servants? Their own master will judge whether they stand or fall. And with the Lord’s help, they will stand and receive his approval. (NLT)
There can be a fine line between being strong in faith and being a fanatic. Between having firm convictions and being a bigot. One person may imagine herself to be someone unshakeable in her beliefs, whereas others might see her as arrogantly dogmatic. One person may see himself as passionate for the truth and others view him as a blinkered ignoramus.
Our text reminds us that there are some issues that we need not agree upon. To insist that every single aspect of our belief system is non-negotiable is to misunderstand the nature of our faith and is to make us very prickly and defensive. Such people tend to demand uniformity and be suspicious of those who think and feel differently on some things.
If we imagine our view of the truth is the only truth, it ignores the varying views of others and causes us to adopt an air of superiority. It also means we ignore our own fallibility. Everyone else is wrong but we can’t be wrong. Such confidence is not so much strong faith as an expression of insecurity. We can’t feel secure about our being right without concluding that everyone who differs from us must be wrong.
We rightly want to safeguard truth, but bigotry clutches hold of “truth” so tightly that the grip it has on it kills it. We can be believers without being bigots.