“Eat whatever is sold in the meat market, asking no questions for conscience’ sake; If any of those who do not believe invites you to dinner, and you desire to go, eat whatever is set before you, asking no question for conscience’ sake. But if anyone says to you, “This was offered to idols,” do not eat it for the sake of the one who told you, and for conscience’ sake; for “the earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness.” “Conscience,” I say, not your own, but that of the other. For why is my liberty judged by another man’s conscience? But if I partake with thanks, why am I evil spoken of for the food over which I give thanks? Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God, just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.”
I Corinthians 10:25, 27-33 NKJV
Cigarettes, booze, and tattoos
There was a time when the pool that the Christian fished from was vast, and rife with with many creatures, open to the Gospel. The climate of the vast sea, was simple and, at least on the surface, what was naturally in fish was not that different from what the “fish” would become after the catch, as the moral climate was seemingly tame.
In reality, we were as sinful then as we are now. The difference is that the sins that were taboo in the past, and hidden from view, have become public, and lauded in the common space. The public sphere has become clouded, with no clear delineation between what is “good” or “bad”.
This has had a huge impact on the spreading of the Gospel, as the lines have become blurred. There was a time when “good Christians” didn’t smoke, drink, or (gasp) have tattoos. In some segments of the Christian family, these are still major taboos, as anathema has using anything other than a King James Bible.
I spent more time in I Corinthians chapter ten, this morning. There were concerns in the church which had lead to disputes. Some in the congregation felt that their liberty allowed them to do anything they wanted, with little to no regard for their “weaker”, read that, more easily offended believers.
We are living in a time when churches are a mix of people who have been in the faith for decades, having come from families that have been in the faith for generations. They might be sitting, unbeknownst, in the pew next to a former sex worker who just got saved, and is going through discipleship.
Such is the reality of salvation.
The modern church is called to show grace and love, and adhere to the just nature of God and the authority of the word. We reach to the lost with a timeless message of redemption, unchanged. The message has the power to save. It is not our concern to be relevant.
This can seem like a difficult balancing act, loving, and holding accountable for sin, but it can be done through the power of God.
We all come to the throne of grace with beliefs and matters of conscience that color our perceptions, and define what we call “godly”.
“One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks. For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living.”
Romans 14:5-9 NKJV
Brothers and sisters, let us remember that we are works in progress, coming into this great faith and being transformed on God’s timetable. Someone might come in with a deep stronghold of sin, known only to God. As an intercessor and confidant, I am praying for many of my brothers and sisters who are being transformed. Many are breaking through strongholds. I know that the Lord will finish His work.
“being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;”
Philippians 1:6 NKJV
Let us give grace to each other, loving and accepting, correcting where needed according to the Scriptures. Let us not be carried away by personal bias.
Let us be mindful of the conscience of those around us, and leave room for personal choices. I choose not to drink, but I do not assail those who do. I choose not to smoke, though I once did. I have no tattoos, but I got scars aplenty. I know brothers and sisters who have some awesome artwork!
We are the church at the end of days. Many of us are escaping hellfire, having been singed. And some of us might smell of cigarettes, booze, and have a few tattoos. Let us rejoice that the grace of God has found us, and we have been saved by the blood of Jesus.
THE PRAYER CHAIR IS OPEN! Send me your requests!