When In Christ…
Recently, while preparing for a lesson, I came across an illustration that revolves around the popular phrase…“WHEN IN ROME, DO AS THE ROMANS DO”. That has been adapted to various phrases that seem to permit any behavior or action that we want to get away with, or dismiss…because we desire to sin.
The original saying has a very old history, and is really a short paraphrase of a piece of advice that is given from one Christian leader to another. Augustine (AD 354– 430), an early church leader, was seeking some advice on things that sometimes caused difficulty in the church, from an older church leader, Ambrose (AD 337– 397).
The full saying is as follows: When I go to Rome, I fast on Saturday, but here [in Milan, where Ambrose was] I do not fast. On the same principle … observe the custom prevailing in whatever church you come to attend, if you desire neither to give offense by your conduct, nor to find cause of offense in another’s.
The advice is to be understood in the context of how Christians saw fit to practice their faith with regard to matters of opinion (as opposed to Biblical truth). When we compare that advice with Romans 14:5-6, we realize that our choices can and do have an impact on others.
Biblical truth should always be followed and not explained away just because we want to justify not following God. Modern culture has hijacked the axiom to justify accommodating oneself to whatever secular customs are practiced in a given location. Don’t fall for the “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” mind-set to justify immoral behavior. Our decision to be Christ followers is a decision to accept the culture of Christ. And we should never step out of that culture, no matter where we may be.