“We put up with anything rather than hinder the Gospel of Christ.” ~1 Corinthians 9:12
Most of the rules and regulations we devise to keep our “decency and order” intact in the church are motivated, I believe, by our deep desire to keep from offending our brothers and sisters. And that’s not an awful motivation. It’s noble, I think, to not want to do anything that would hurt a fellow Christian. It’s very Christ-like, actually.
The problem comes when those brothers and sisters insist on rules and regulations — and even more rules and regulations — so they’re not offended. When believers impose their own comfort zones and cultural or generational preferences on fellow Christians so as not to be offended, it’s just flat-out wrong. They use the “weak” brother position as a weapon of power. They use “weak” as a means to control. And it’s ungodly.
Paul tells us to be careful that the exercise of the great freedom we have in Christ does not become a stumbling block to the weak (1 Cor. 8:9). In that same context — same paragraph — Paul defines the “weak” as a brand new Christian who was just worshiping idols in the pagan temples a few days earlier. These “weak” Christians are still wet behind the ears, figuratively, of course. Still dripping from their very recent baptisms (8:7). And then he goes on to explain that causing a “weak” brother or sister to stumble means to cause them to participate in activities that violate their own consciences (8:10-11).
Generally speaking, the complainers among us are never in a million years going to adopt the practice(s) against which they are railing. Generally speaking, those who gripe are never going to defile their conscience by participating in the debated activity. Generally speaking, these brothers and sisters we’re trying so hard not to offend are not brand new Christians, either. They should know better.
“Why should my freedom be judged by another’s conscience? If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for?” ~1 Corinthians 10:29-30
Paul says we should not cause anyone to stumble, not “grumble.”
If you see a fellow Christian drinking a beer or worshiping God with a piano or sporting a nose ring or vacationing in Vegas or taking communion on Saturday night, leave it alone. Even if you’re really offended. Leave it alone. The only complaint you have is if by seeing these offending practices you begin participating in them yourself and violate your conscience. Let me know when that happens.
“I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.” ~1 Corinthians 9:19
“I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.” ~1 Corinthians 9:22
“Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.” ~1 Corinthians 10:24
“I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.” ~1 Corinthians 10:33
Corey and Emily Mullins, Legacy’s missionaries to Australia, are now proud parents of a brand new baby boy. Enoch Elian was born yesterday at 6-pounds-2.5-ounces and 18.5-inches long. Congratulations! You can read all about it and see all the pictures by clicking here to the Mullins’ blog. I got an email last night from Mark Hooper that simply said, “The Mullins’ baby was born naked. Please pray for him.”
More than 900 empty tomb T-shirts arrived here this morning. Many wonderful volunteers are tirelessly sorting and packaging the shirts for pick-up on Sunday. We also received 300 more empty tomb decals today to meet the still-steady demand. And we still have nearly 3,000 of the empty tomb cards ready to go.
More importantly, the stories keep coming in, too.
The Legacy Church of Christ is engaging our community with the Gospel. Resurrection Conversations are happening out there. Mike Trader with his IT guy at work who saw the empty tomb on Mike’s phone. Keith Alexander and a group of 30 by-standers at a Goodwill store who were intrigued by the “saw blade” design and the “piece of toast.” Richard Ashlock at work. My family at Rosa’s. All the Legacy school kids having Resurrection Conversations in class, during lunch, and in the halls.
We’re hoping that saturating our community with the empty tomb images, and the resultant conversations, will get people into our building during the Resurrection Renewal here April 4-7. A wonderful side benefit for us is that our mindset is being directed to people and things outside our building, not inside. We’re looking out now, not in. And that’s critical for anyone who calls himself a disciple of Christ.
Can you tell me what some of these “debated activities” are? I’d like to try a few of them out just to make sure I’ve got the full picture.