Walking in Christ’s Light:
We are concerned about others walk
1 Cor. 8:1-13
† In Jesus Name †
May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ sustain you and those you encounter in life.
Anyone offer any food to idols recently?
I would like to start today’s message by asking an odd question.
When was the last time you ate a mean that was spiritually unclean because it was offered to an idol?
How many even know what that means?
So most of you couldn’t see arguing about that in a congregational meeting? You can’t see Tom and Dane or Jim and Manny, or Bob and Bob yelling and screaming at each other and threatening each other with physical harm over some bacon-wrapped shrimp?
However, other things that people contend are a big enough issue to divide a church or the Church.
Sometimes, the issue is big enough, like whether we are justified by grace alone. Or that Jesus was fully man and fully God. Another issue would be that the elements there on the altar are the body and blood of Christ un and under the bread and wine.
But with most things, even things we think are “religious”, we need to listen to that famous theologian, Captain Jack Sparrow:
“The problem is not the problem. Your attitude about the problem is the problem!”Law – Depending on what we know, rather than seeing people as people
We see this is in the words of St. Paul,
“Yes, we know that “we all have knowledge” about this issue. But while knowledge makes us feel important, it is love that strengthens the church. 2 Anyone who claims to know all the answers doesn’t really know very much.
Here is the problem – we all think we have all the knowledge on a subject. Whether it is about eating meat offered to idols, or how to properly be Lutheran, or about Politics, or Football or COVID. Our knowledge knows what is right, and that’s the end of the story, right?
No, if you think you know everything about a subject, then you know nothing. The knowledge you have, scripture says, makes you feel important, but it isn’t all there is on the subject.
And while that knowledge makes you feel important, there is a problem. Yo
Important compared to whom?
Who do you think you are better than? Who has to be brought down low so that you can be more important?
There is the first sin, the sin against your brother or sister who you demand bow to your superior knowledge…
The second reason such an idea is sin is that if we claim to know it, all and scripture doesn’t mention it directly, we merely are playing God.
And while the Corinthians were arguing about food offered to idols, they were making themselves the idol, the final judge who condemn people based on their own knowledge.
You and I do the same thing. Our pride in our knowledge judges and condemns people for things that our preferences, rather than what God clearly reveals.
Or just the opposite… we don’t address the sin we know needs to be addressed because we know better than those judging us…
And the way we act, our attitude about our knowledge shows how we use it, that our idol is more important than the people of God.
Paul begs us to not worship idols, these things that we make to be the gods we rely upon, whether in heaven or on earth. Because we have something more.
Gospel – seeing for whom we live in through whom we have a life!
Hear Paul again,
6 But for us, There is one God, the Father, by whom all things were created, and for whom we live. And there is one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things were created, and through whom we live! (exclamation point mine)
Instead of relying on our own knowledge, instead of turning the knowledge we have collected from man and making that data the basis for our lives, this matters
There is God the Father, who created you.
And there is God, our Lord Jesus Christ, son of the Father, through whom we have been recreated, and through whom we live.
In other words, everything we are, everything that defines us, everything that makes a difference in our lives is found in our relationship with Jesus…
The relationship defines everything about us, for God is our God.
I need to repeat that,
The relationship defines everything about us, for God is our God.
Through the scriptures, the knowledge He gives us – even that needs to be used in a way that draws people to Jesus.
For He died to do that! That is why our sins are forgiven so that we realize we live for God and that we live through God!
Looking at Him – people matter
The last point in this sermon comes from the first verse.
But while knowledge makes us feel important, it is love that strengthens the church.
If knowledge causes us to feel important, love helps us realize that others are important.
That our freedom isn’t worth driving a wedge between them and God because they feel guilty for doing things they feel are wrong, but that we know is okay.
That is why Paul says he will go without meat or bacon. Too many didn’t know their freedom there, and rather than force them to approve of what they consider sin, he would go without…
For man doesn’t live by Woodranch alone. But man because of the very word of God… the word of God which declares our sin forgiven, that declares this bread and wine to be the Body and Blood of Christ, that declares us to be the family of God, and invites us to this feast…
Where we can pause, and find rest and peace in the presence of God…. AMEN!
Devotional Thought of the Day:
We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this
fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from.”
The man answered, “Now that is remarkable!
You don’t know where he comes from,
yet he opened my eyes.”John 9:29-30
The respectable side of religion can generate dangerous responses to hearing God…..
And I prayed earnestly to the Lord God, pleading with him, fasting, wearing sackcloth, and sitting in ashes. 4 I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed the sins of my people.
I said, “Lord God, you are great, and we honor you. You are faithful to your covenant and show constant love to those who love you and do what you command.
5 “We have sinned, we have been evil, we have done wrong. We have rejected what you commanded us to do and have turned away from what you showed us was right. 6 We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our rulers, our ancestors, and our whole nation. Daniel 9:3-6 GNT
As I got to my devotional reading this morning, and read the section of Dallas Willard’s devotional book I thought, “AHA! a perfect passage to deal with in my devotional writings this morning. I know the kind of legalistic, self righteous condescending jackasses that would have treated the one Jesus healed this way!
And then I got to my second reading, and Daniel’s confession on behalf of God’s people, and it got me to look in the mirror, and realize that at times, the self-righteous, condescending, legalistic jerk is most clearly pictured there.
I am the one that needs to listen to God, as do those I shepherd. We need to seek to trust in God enough that He will lead us through the transformation that is repentance. It is not easy, it will take the kind of faith that David had, when he wrote,
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. Psalm 139:23-24 (NLT2)
That is a prayer that requires trust in God, more than just mere belief. This is the way we experience the love of God in way that is astonishing, when we allow Him to see as we are, broken, sinful, hiding behind masks that point out the worst in others.
This is the trust, the dependance on the work of Christ at the cross that defines the Christian faith. To allow God in to allow Him to heal us, to allow Him to eradicate the sin and darkness that haunts us, that we try to hide deep within. And freed from the brokenness, the need to be condescending, the need to be self-righteous, the need to be legalistic disappears. WHat we want to do is share in the healing we have received.
Trust Him, let Him see you… let Him heal you as he did the blind man, as He has so many others… and pray I will allow Him to do the same for me.
Dallas Willard and Jan Johnson, Hearing God through the Year: A 365-Day Devotional (Westmont, IL: IVP Books, 2015).