1st Corinthians 8:9……Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak. (NIV)
We are living in a polarized and confrontational world. It seems that many are intent on making their views known and their practices a statement of their enlightened choices. I don’t have a Facebook account but I do look over my spouse’s shoulders as she catches up on the happenings of the day or week. It seems there are quite a few who don’t hold back nor do they consider their audience as they proclaim their Christian freedom in a variety of ways.
Though I don’t have a Facebook account, there are times when I too have flaunted my freedom in Christ and have even gone as far as to try to agitate those who would consider me a little less than righteous. When I was college student, I liked to fish after attending church on Sunday. My dad believed it was a violation of the sacred nature of the Lord’s day and the commandment to rest of the Sabbath. For awhile, I would encourage conflict by trying to argue with my dad about it and I tried to convince him that he was simply being a Pharisee. I learned over time that Dad was firm in his belief and I was an all-knowing twenty year-old trying to make a statement concerning my more current interpretation of the scriptures. In the process, I was causing my dad some stress.
I didn’t get sneaky. Nor did I lie to my dad about my Sunday fishing expeditions. I simply chose not to flaunt my freedom to be a Sabbath day angler and Dad and I decided we would agree to disagree. He wouldn’t call me an infidel and I would not consider him a Pharisee.
The apostle Paul liked to eat meat and quite a bit of the animal flesh sold in that day was a product of pagan idolatrous sacrifices. Paul saw it as a slaughtered animal product that happened to be sacrificed and offered to a god that did not exist. Therefore, it was suitable for the church cookout. Others in the church, however, could not get beyond the background of this meat. Paul then makes a most gracious and considerate confession to a Corinthian congregation that cherished and abused their freedom in Christ. This unselfish standard is one that certainly challenges those of my ilk who appreciate a good steak and baked “tater”…..
V13 – If what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall.
We all cherish our freedom and on Sunday we will acknowledge our freedom as Americans and celebrate it as we worship and enjoy a great meal of barbecue together following the morning service. Hopefully, we celebrate on a weekly basis the freedom we have in Christ. This freedom differs amongst the people of God and we must value our consideration of fellow believers more than our independence.
I hope I can still eat some smoked swine on Sunday. If it offends…let’s talk. Hopefully we can agree to disagree and I will try to keep my pleasure in pork consumption to a minimum.