We had just an incredible Give Away Day at Siempre Familia on Saturday. We experienced forgiveness here at Legacy on Sunday in ways that only the Holy Spirit can cause. And I think Jerry Wayne is firing Wade Phillips even as I’m writing this post.
I’ll get to all of that tomorrow. Today, I want to make good on finishing up my thoughts on Knowledge Puffs Up.
In 1 Corinthians 8-10, Paul is addressing the single most volatile, divisive issue in the early Church. This is the issue that threatens to split God’s Church right in half. This is the thing that is polarizing the disciples of Jesus. It’s a “salvation issue.” It’s causing division, pitting Christians of one viewpoint and one mindset against Christians with different backgrounds and understandings. This is women’s roles and leadership structures and instrumental praise and worship teams and pantsuits and kitchens and divorce and multiple cups and missionary societies and R-rated movies all rolled up into one explosive church issue.
And here’s what the inspired apostle Paul has to say about it:
“Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up” (8:1).
“We put up with anything rather than hinder the Gospel of Christ” (9:12).
“I make myself a slave to everyone to win as many as possible” (9:19).
“I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some” (9:22)
“Everything is permissible” (10:23).
“Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others” (10:24).
“I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved” (10:33).
A careful reading of 10:25-30 shows us that, in matters of controversy, Paul clearly favors freedom over abstinence. If it’s true that the strong Christians should not act in ways that harm the weak — and it is! — it’s also true that the weak should not accuse the strong of sin. It’s a two way street when it comes to disciples of Jesus in God’s Church.
But please note that his many instructions to this strife-torn congregation in Corinth share a common theme: in order that those on the outside, those without Christ, would come to know and receive salvation from God.
Paul refuses to engage in anything that may “hinder the Gospel of Christ.” His ultimate goal is to “win as many as possible.” His mission is to “save some.” He seeks the good of others “that they may be saved.”
I really believe that Paul knows, no matter what he does, he’s going to offend some people. You ever feel like that? No matter what you do, somebody’s not going to like it? Somebody’s going to complain? Somebody’s going to be offended? I know preachers feel that way. So do most elders I know. I really believe that Paul’s conclusion is that he would much rather offend a fellow Christian who’s already secure in Christ than an unbeliever who might turn away from the Gospel for unnecessary reasons.
The Gospel message already contains a few major stumbling blocks. There’s that whole idea of a crucified Savior. Hard to swallow. The call to die to ourselves and give everything to Christ. The imperative to sacrifice and give to others. Those are tough hurdles standing between the lost and a full acceptance of salvation from God in Christ. But those obstacles can never be taken away. Those things are the very essence of Christian discipleship. What we don’t need is a legalistic mindset that depicts Christianity as submission to a long list of dos and don’ts and conforming to a bunch of man-made rules. That’s the unnecessary hindrance to the faith that Paul, I believe, wants to abolish forever.