I will never eat meat again!

In our context, after every sermon we do a follow up devotional.  Here is the last sermon I preached and the followup devotional.  

ENCOUNTER:  Read 1 Corinthians 8

Ok, the title is a little misleading.  I love meat and will eat it forever!!  That is, unless, eating meat causes spiritual problems with those in whom I am in community.  For, in that case, I the spiritual health of those I live with in community is infinitely worth more than my freedom to eat as much meat as I want.  

Thankfully, we live in a context where meat isn't a spiritual issue, or one that divides us.  But this passage in 1 Corinthians isn't about meat.  This passage is about how we live in community when we have different understandings of the law, of freedom, and even of righteousness.  

The assumption is that we are all leaning into Jesus and long to love Him, honor Him, and serve him with all our hearts.  This is an important assumption.  For many of us in our context, we see our walk with Jesus in terms of regulations and question, "How much can I get away with?"  But the maturing life in Christ is not about regulation, but about union.  It is about a growing intimacy with Jesus and with His people.  

And because our starting point is longing for intimacy with Jesus and with others, then the question is less about my rights, and more about considering the convictions of those around me.  So if I have freedom in something based on my deepening love of Jesus, but others around me are not as free based on their growing intimacy with Jesus, then it is imperative that those who are free, be willing to give up their freedoms for the sake of the weaker sister or brother.  

This is not natural or normal, and this idea should chafe on our sensibilities.  But just because it chafes, doesn't mean it isn't true or right.  So the big question is, "Are you willing to give up your rights for the sake of those you are living in community with?"

BE REFLECTIVE:

  • Here is where the rubber meats the road:  Can you even identify one area where you are free, but your freedom might cost unity in our community?  Consider, food, alcohol, pot, politics, media, pirating movies, modesty, a theological position?  Would you ever die to that freedom?  Why or why not?
  • An easier way to approach this:  What are areas you see in the life of those we live in community that find yourself judging?  How can those people have freedom to live that way, or believe that thing?  How does that impact your faith?

BE A BLESSING:

  • Try it out.  Think of one freedom you have, and even though nobody is asking you to give it up, give it up.  For one week, die to it, be free from it.  And see if you can find joy in your sacrifice.  :)

BE TOGETHER:

  • They will know we are followers of Christ by the way we love one another.  Unity is the mark of maturity, this means we need to lean into relationship not flee it.  How can you move closer in unity this week?