Monday, March 19, 2012

In the world but not of the world


The subject line is easy to read, but very complex and difficult to practically live out in one’s life.
Here’s a summary of the sermon I preached based on I Corinthians 8:1-13.

The problem of food sacrificed to idols
Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. (1 Corinthians 8:1 )
The Corinthian Christians wrote Paul about the problem of food sacrificed to idols. They lived in a Greco-Roman culture where it was common for people to sacrifice to numerous gods in a pagan temple. People in that day did not get a lot of meat. But when they did sacrifice an animal, three things happened:
1. One part would be offered up in the fire to the pagan god.
2. A second part would be given to the pagan priest and if he had enough meat, he would sell the meat in the market place.
3. A third and final portion would be given to the worshiper who in turn would invite his friends and family to a dinner party either in the temple or in some one's home. 

No one questioned this practice except for devout Jews or converts to Christianity. They would find it uncomfortable to accept an invitation to this party.

How does the follower of Jesus live in the world but avoid being shaped by the practices of the world? Here are four questions to ask when trying to navigate such challenges:
  • What does Scripture say
  • What does my conscience say?
  • How will my actions affect others or affect me?
  • Is this a loving thing to do?
      So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others (Philippians 2:1-4).

What additional questions would you suggest when trying to decide on matters Scripture does not forbid?