Thursday, April 8, 2010

Some thoughts on I Corinthians 8-10

I Corinthians 8-10 deals with an issue that we often deal with today, though it is slightly tweaked. What the Corinthian church was dealing with were those who were stronger (ie. the knowledgable) who were causing those who were weaker (the ones with conscience) to fall into sin by going against their conscience. How did they do this? How were the stronger being a stumbling block (8:7-12) to the weak? Answer: The strong ate the meat offered to idols to which the weaker's conscience could not allow the weak to do, but by seeing the strong do it they go against their conscience and eat the meat thereby falling into sin (8).

It is because of this that the strong thereby sin themselves because they caused their brother to fall into sin. In western culture we do not struggle with this problem of food sacrificed to idols, or do we? While it may not be food, we do struggle with the problem that people often have with idols. Alcohol is one such idol, and an easy one to go to for many people. Lately, anyone who has a conscience is belittled for it by the knowledgeable who are able to drink alcohol. To this I say it is a shame.

I fully acknowledge that a Christian can drink alcohol and not be condemned to hell, in fact I wouldn't really care if every Christian drank alcohol correctly. This is an example of a strong (knowledgeable) Christian. Yes, we can drink alcohol there is nothing wrong with it (so long as you do not get drunk). We say this so very easily, so oblivious to those around us and the pain that alcohol has caused to so many people. So when a weaker believer whose conscience has been placed to keep them from sin, from possible bondage, sees us drink and hears us discuss it, and it causes them to fall into it because of us, we sin ourselves because it is our fault that they have fallen into sin by going against their conscience (see I Corinthians 8:7-13).

What do I see? As a Christian I can easily affirm our ability to drink alcohol and not fall into sin. At the same time, with my own freedom, my own choice, I limit myself to not drink for the sake of those who are around me. Why do I do this? "Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor (I Cor. 10:24)." Therefore I allow my conscience to bear witness to the others conscience for the sake of the other. Yes, I could easily go and do that which is good by me and drink an alcoholic drink. However, for the sake of the people around me, I let go of my freedoms for their sake because it is not about my newfound freedom, but God and His glory (I Cor. 9, 10:31-33).

This is why I do not drink. This is why I think that the majority of Christians who are so arrogant in their knowledge should better recognize those around them. At the same time I will not tell anyone that they should not drink, but if you drink to think about the possible consequences. It is clear that when we cause others to stumble that WE sin in the process (I Corinthians 8:7-12). If you have knowledge and recognize your freedom then do as you please, but not at the expense of those who are weaker then you. If eating meat caused someone to stumble Paul claimed he would never eat meat again (I Cor. 8:13). Are we so willing to do the same for the weaker among us for something like alcohol? Just a thought.

God bless,

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