Friday, March 23, 2012
Welcome to Day 82 of our Life Journal!
Before you comment or read what I have posted, please read the following passages for yourself and complete your own S.O.A.P. exercise… How does this work?
S.O.A.P = Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer
Joshua 15:63, “Judah could not dislodge the Jebusites, who were living in Jerusalem; to this day the Jebusites live there with the people of Judah.”
Joshua 16:10, “They did not dislodge the Canaanites living in Gezer; to this day the Canaanites live among the people of Ephraim but are required to do forced labor.”
Joshua 17:12, “Yet the Manassites were not able to occupy these towns, for the Canaanites were determined to live in that region. 13 However, when the Israelites grew stronger, they subjected the Canaanites to forced labor but did not drive them out completely.”
1 Corinthians 8:9,
“Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak.
10 For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols? 11 So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. 12 When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall., concerning eating food that had been sacrificed to idols…”
The Israelites did not completely destroy all the people living in the land or drive them out of the land they were about to occupy, allowing them to live near them or as servants. Guessing down the road this will come back to bite them…
Focusing today on this idea of not causing others to stumble in their faith…
Always an interesting and difficult discussion, because on one hand, I am not responsible for the decisions that others make regarding such matters. Yet, I also don’t want to be responsible for someone making a decision to do something that goes against their conscience, causing them to sin.
Paul expanded on this issue in Romans 14, one of my favorite chapters in the whole Bible, because it gives guidelines for making decisions regarding topics that are not otherwise clearly defined in the Bible as being “right” or “wrong.” Sin or not…
Of course we don’t struggle over eating meat that has been sacrificed to an idol. It just doesn’t happen in America in 2012. It could still be an issue in other parts of the world, but not here.
Our struggle may lie in other, yet similar, issues such as drinking wine, is it ok to go to movies, what music is ok, things like that.
For the topics in the Bible that are not clearly defined as sin… or let me say it this way, some things are obvious, Old Testament or New… Adultery is wrong. It’s black and white. Same with murder.
But what about going to movies that are PG13 or R? Does the content matter? Violence, language, sexual situations etc… The Bible doesn’t say, “Don’t go to movies.” But Jesus did say that the eye is the lamp of the body. Certainly, what we take in affects us… Those images are stored on the hard drive of our hearts and minds.
If I know that you used to worship in the temple of Diana/Artemis (in Ephesus) and I got meat from there… and I invited you over for dinner… it would be inconsiderate to serve that meat to you, knowing you came out of that.
Yes, I could say, “It’s a dumb idol. It’s nothing.” But, to you, it WAS and MAY STILL BE something. It could offend your conscience. I could cause you to stumble in your faith because of my freedom or liberty in that area.
Perhaps the meat we eat is not an issue, but you bring a bottle of wine to the dinner at our house, and we do not drink. I can either make an issue out of it, or I can simply allow you to drink it and enjoy it.
But what if you know I had an issue with alcoholism… and you bring the bottle of wine to my house. That could cause ME to stumble.
Obviously this is a sliding scale and is not a “one size fits all” conversation or solution. It’s a sensitivity issue or a consideration issue.
If one simply says, “That’s THEIR problem! I can drink it if I want to!” That may be true, but it’s highly insensitive and very selfish.
Some people are more offended by violence in a movie, others, strong language is offensive. Sexual situations can often be a stumbling block to a person’s faith. If a guy has an issue with pornography, knowingly watching a movie with sexual content is unwise, to say the least.
Most of Paul’s letters, especially 1 and 2 Corinthians were written to help Christians sort out issues of faith. The Law was clear, right and wrong. Black and white.
But they wrestled with, “Should Gentile believers have to be circumcised?” They landed on no, but still Paul told Timothy to be circumcised so that it wouldn’t become an issue down the road for him. (Timothy’s father was Greek, his mother was Jewish.)
Bottom line? Unless you are absolutely certain where others stand, better to err on the side of caution and in deference to others than to potentially cause someone to stumble.
And, just for the record, yes, one can carry this out to the nth degree and attempt to live life so as to not cause ANYONE to stumble… That is probably not possible, but it is a worthy goal. To a degree…
Maturity says, “I may not eat meat that has been sacrificed to an idol, but if you’re ok with it, then enjoy.” I can not make MY issue YOUR issue, because I am secure in my faith.
Give me wisdom and sensitivity, Lord… Paul said, “Follow my example as I follow Christ’s example.” Words to live by…
I pray for all those looking on to today’s blog that Lord, you would speak to our hearts and give us wisdom and sensitivity regarding such matters, that we would all walk this out together in community, understanding that our freedom, can have an effect on those around us.