I have been asked the question, "What do I do?" many times since I have become the pastor of The Oaks. What do I do about my husband/wife? What do I do about my children? What do I do about my job? What do I do about...?(you fill in the blank). It is a very common question and one I take very seriously before I answer.
In a similar light, Paul was asked by the church in Corinth in 1 Corinthians 8:1-13, what do we do? What should we do about the meat sacrificed to idols? Should we eat the meat? Should we let it go to waste? You have to remember that meat was difficult to come by and was considered by many as a luxury. Is such a luxury worth committing a grave sin? These were the questions they were grappling with at the time of the writing, and Paul's response is the essence of the sermon Sunday morning.
Without giving away too much of my sermon, I can summarize what Paul says in two lines. First, eating meat is okay because whether the meat has been sacrificed to idols or not, we know idols don't exist, therefore you are only eating meat. Secondly, while eating the meat is okay in and of itself, there are some in the church who are uncomfortable with the practice; therefore, whatever you do, you must not cause anyone to stumble in their faith so refrain and err on the side of love.
Now you may ask, what does this have to do with me today? I answer that question by asking you another: is it okay to have a drink while eating out with friends? Is it okay to play blackjack while in Vegas? Those questions seem innocent enough, but I have seen churches split over less. There are some who say no Christian should drink or gamble. Others ask what does having a drink matter or what is the big deal of playing the lottery if it is done in moderation? Who is right and who is wrong?
The worst thing we can do as we answer these questions, (and honestly, Baptists are perhaps the worst denomination about it), is to be so bull headed about what is right or wrong that we forget that love is the most important aspect of our relationships with others. Paul writes that knowledge puffs us, but love builds up. Being smart or being able to justify our position makes us feel good but if that comes at the expense of another, then we are wrong.
Regardless of how you come down on these issues or many others in the church or politics or wherever, there is something that Paul demands of us as followers of Christ. Paul implores us to be humble and loving in our responses. He tells us that no matter what "freedom" we may have under Christ, we are obligated by the law of love not to become a stumbling block for others. So sometimes, being a loving person means you willingly sacrifice your personal freedoms for the benefit of the Body of Christ.
As I have told you before and will tell you again, whatever we do personally or as a church, let's err on the side of grace and in doing so, we err on the side of Christ.
May you consider this writing and our text as you prepare you heart for worship Sunday morning.
Thanks as always for reading,