Monday, January 24, 2005

seeing god's word with new eyes

I love when God reveals something new to me through His word. It excites me to read something that I've read time and time again, and then ding! It suddenly makes sense to me! Yesterday the youth minister at our congregation -- who has been abundantly blessed with the gift of humor, I might add -- spoke about some scriptures in Romans 14. Some parts that really stood out to me: "One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind....if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean....the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin."

Does this mean sin has a different definition for all of us? Obviously, there are certain issues that Jesus spoke out against, no questions asked: "For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man 'unclean'..." (Matt 15:19)

But what of all those "gray areas"? Issues that aren't pointedly addressed by Jesus? Instruments accompanying worship? Drinking a glass of wine with dinner? Women teaching men in the assembly? Using birth control? Spanking? The list goes on and on.

My intepretation of these scriptures is...what is right for you could be wrong for me. If I am convinced that drinking alcohol in moderation is okay, then for me, it's okay. But if you are convinced that drinking alcohol in any amount is dangerous, then for you, it's sinful. Thoughts?


Blogger Jana said...

Although some might confuse the concept by thinking that Christianity is thereby advocating some sort of subjective moral standard, I tend to agree with
your thoughts and believe that we are all called to obedience to Christ
and taking up our cross daily. For the alcoholic this will mean
sacrificing a pleasant drink of wine with dinner (if one thinks of wine
with dinner as pleasant). For the one who struggles with greed this may
mean greater material sacrifices than others. I don't think this is
moral relativism/subjectivism merely that we who have a relationship
with the person of Jesus - who is objective truth - all must be
conformed to his image in different ways. I am pruned and refined in
ways that you may not have to be and vice versa.


7:55 AM  
Blogger J-Wild said...

Is there anyway to get that sermon on CD? I would like to hear it. I think it's important to realize that Paul says in Romans 14:14 "I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean." Paul did not put himself in a position of choosing sides in this clean vs. unclean debate, and he definitely didn't make the issue a central matter of faith. But that doesn't mean he didn't have strong feelings about it and that there wasn’t a "right" view of the issue. The passage seems to deal with the idea that the weaker brother lacked adequate knowledge about the issue. Paul didn't want to rub the guys nose in the fact that he had come to a clearer understanding in Jesus and the other brother hadn't (yet). Instead by being humble and calling others to be humble he hopes to foster an attitude of patience for the "weaker" brother (Romans 14:20-21).

I don't think that one thing being ok for me (in the gray area) could be a sin for a different person or vice versa. Paul desires authentic compassion and sincerity of faith, but I believe he trusts that the more authentic a person is in Jesus the greater their understandings will be with regard to the truth lived and preached by Jesus Christ. That includes all of those “gray” areas. Jesus doesn’t have a lot of gray areas, when it comes to defending life, loving children, empowering women, treating outcasts with equality and compassion, and pulling up to the table of sinners in an effort to love, teach, and welcome them into the kingdom. There is no line or gray area that Jesus calls us to stay in. He is always there saying, “Come just a little further, you’ll be amazed by what you see.”

I am totally breaking the blogger rule of short comments, but I feel like this is important and such a great topic for you to blog about. I personally feel like the “stumbling block” passage has been used so many times to stop people in their tracks because others don’t feel “comfortable”. It doesn’t say, “Don’t do things that make people feel uncomfortable!” Rather it means to say don’t do anything that will cause a person to loose their faith in Jesus. There are so many churches that are held captive by a few who throw this verse in the face of a majority who seek to walk a closer journey with Christ. I have seen it happen a lot, and it happened so many times in the history of the church. Segregation is the prime example that comes to my mind. It’s hard to believe that there were churches that thought this was a “gray” area to be decided by society, not the church! This was the case even at ACU! In the fifties, when my grandpa was there, the black students (who couldn’t officially enroll as students until 1967) had to sit in the hall with the door open, because they couldn’t be in the same classroom as the other students. This was in the BIBLE department, in classes for preachers! It was justified because to have them come and sit in the classroom made people uncomfortable and some felt it was wrong in light of verses like John 19:11, Eph 6:8-9, 1 Tim 6:1, Titus 2:9. We can see from letters like Galatians, Romans, the Gospels, and Jesus' life that the Gospel is incompatable with that kind of injustice.

Thanks for throwing this out there. It has caused me to do reading, reflecting, and processing on God’s word and that is always a good thing (as you state). Keep up the great posts and attentive ear!

11:53 AM  

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