Wednesday, December 01, 2010

2010 – December 1 – With Freedom and Responsibility

BLOGGER'S NOTE: On January 1, 2010 I set a convenant goal with God and a number of my Christian accountability partners to read/study through the Bible this year. My "tool" to accomplish this was to use a Bible edited by Dr. F. LaGard Smith, The Daily Bible in Chronological Order, which, to the editor's campability and study, exposes the Bible in logical/chronological order. Dr. Smith also has a companion tool, a devotional book, The Daily Bible Devotional, which follows along with the Bible he has edited and presents daily topical snapshots for his readers to glean biblical truths for their lives. Thus far this has been a daunting discipline for me; but here I am, coming down the stretch in the last month of 2010; and GOD WILLING, on Dec. 31st, I'll be here bragging on God's enabling grace for giving me the discipline to finish my trek through His word. For those who've come along with me, all the way or part of the way, I hope this journey has been as uplifting for you as it has for me.

Study from God’s Word Continuing on in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians (his second letter which we call his first) 1st Corinthians, Chapters 5 – 10 and 1Cor 11: 1 … Passage for Reflection: 1st Corinthians 10: 23 - 24 … NIV 23 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. 24 No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.

My Journal for Today: What should we, as Christians do; and what should we avoid? Christian freedom versus Christian discipline: Isn’t that one of the most perplexing and challenging confrontations we must deal with as disciples of Christ? Well, that was one of the main issues to which the Apostle Paul addressed in his letter to the Corinthians (and of course, extended to all Christians today in our Bible). And there were some tough issues the people and the Church in Corinth were dealing with in those days, … such things as idolatry, sexual immorality [such as homosexuality and even incest], and human greed, not to mention “smaller” categories of sin (though any/all sin, of course, is an affront to God).

And the Corinthians Christians, Jews and Gentiles alike, were also dealing with how to decide to live out their new found freedom from God’s Law with the responsibility to live in accord with God’s will. It’s like children who must have rules and discipline to prevent them from danger and even death; but then the kid grows up and has to learn how to handle the freedom he has in not needing the strict rules as an adult. It’s a matter of having the right to do X, Y, or Z; but knowing that doing X, Y, or Z will not honor God or give Him glory. Therefore, as today’s highlight passage depicts, there may be things I have the right to do; but I won’t do them because they can be dangerous to my health or certainly dishonor my God as an improper witness.

For example, you may have the freedom to cross a very busy six-lane highway where vehicles are traveling 70 miles per hour; but would you choose to exercise that freedom? Today in our permissive culture the laws may say that I have the right to engage in sexual relations with another man. Some may even say that such behavior is “normal;” … and yet if I had a desire to have sex with another man and I knew he was HIV+, would I exercise my “freedom” to do so? Of course, I wouldn’t; but am I FREE, as a Christian male, to have sex with any other male, even if he were not HIV+? Big debate going on in our culture today, isn’t it? And it was so back in Paul’s day as he addressed what the Corinthians were confronting in their world too.

Maybe you’re saying that my examples are too extreme. Well, let me take it down to a very human, and very personal level. When I go through a serving line at any of the buffet type restaurants, once I pay my front-end price, I’m “FREE” to eat anything on display there in the restaurant. And I can go back as often as I want to exercise that pre-paid freedom. But the question, as a Christian is, should I, as a disciple of Christ, who happens to be a diabetic, exercise my freedom in that restaurant and gorge myself on many, many dishes which could be or are hazardous to my health. And another serious question is … should I put my sin-weakness of gluttony on display for anyone to see, especially others who might know that I’m a Christian minister?

Yes, my dear ones, we are free from God’s Law as Christians; but Paul wanted the Corinthians – and God wanted us, through Paul’s letters – to know that our freedom as Christians can only be exercised to the extent of the perception of how others, especially non-believers, perceive our behavior. As Dr. Smith reminded his readers today: "There is a saying in law that your right to swing your fist ends at my nose." And I’ll leave you to contemplate that truth as well as the truth of what the Apostle Paul is relating to the Christians at Corinth, which is so applicable to our culture today.

Maybe it would be a good exercise for you to go back, as I’m being led to do by my devotional trek, and read – in depth – Paul’s admonition to the Christians in Corinth. I’ll leave you to that study; but I know it will be as productive for you as it is for me.

My Prayer for Today: Lord, You are my freedom; so help me to know that my freedom to be shines Your light for others to see; and I want them to see YOU and not me. Amen

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