So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Don’t give offense to Jews or Gentiles or the church of God. I, too, try to please everyone in everything I do. I don’t just do what is best for me; I do what is best for others so that many may be saved.
– 1 Corinthians 10:31-33 (NLT)
There are some freakyweird Christians out there. I live in the dirty South…Mississippi to be exact. This area of the country is often referred to as the Bible belt. Mississippi, specifically, is probably the buckle of that belt. And along with this territory comes many hyper-Christians. I’m talking about the religious ones. You know them. The girl that refuses to hug her guy friends. The guy that tells you he’ll pray for you if you tell a joke that isn’t 100% Southern appropriate. What about the group of Christians who bomb abortion clinics or the “conservative Christian” who is racist or the Christian organizations that boycott anything they deem unholy?
In Corinth, Paul dealt with these religious Christians as well. These people were damaging their witness to the Jews and the Greeks that did not know Christ through their hyper-legalism. The people were still struggling to separate the laws of Judaism from the freedom of a relationship with Jesus. They would dine with a friend but refuse to eat foods prepared for them because it disagreed with their moral compass. Paul addresses the issue in 1 Corinthians 10. He says “Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor…If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience — I do not mean YOUR conscience, but his. For why should my liberty be determined by someone else’s conscience“ (10:27-29 ESV).
The practice of Christianity is love, not condemnation. This passage is not meant to give freedom to sin. It is not meant to completely invalidate God’s law. Some people use this verse to give license to a dual lifestyle of immorality and Christianity. But this passage is not a “Get Out of Jail Free” card for Christians. It is simply a wake-up call to the overly religious Christians out there. What it means in layman terms is this: STOP BEING WEIRD!
Being wise is one thing. Following God’s leading for your life is wonderful. Sticking to moral convictions is awesome. But condemning your neighbor is not. We, as Christ-followers, must figure out how to love people. We have to figure out how to live to the glory of God AND to love our friends. It’s time to stop being the weird Christian and start being the loving Christ-follower.
Religion is not a loving institution. It tells us that if we are just good enough, moral enough, faithful enough, we can somehow convince God to love us. This, friends, is false. Religion is a strict set of rules. RELATIONSHIP with JESUS is FREEDOM! It’s freedom to live the life He created for you. It is freedom to love other people. It is freedom to learn to live your life to lift Jesus up and to enjoy the journey. Relationship with Jesus is not the anti-law. It’s a compliment to the law. If we can learn how to truly love God and love people, we will discover how to live inside His moral boundaries AND to live in freedom. This balance will never offend an unbeliever. This balance will never damage your testimony.
Saying no to sin is the idea. Being uber-religious and condemning others for their actions is not the idea. We have to learn to make our lives fit God, not to make God fit our lives. Hence, my favorite verse in the entire Bible:
And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself. – John 12:32 (NLT).
Friends, let’s find a way to love God and love people. Let’s find a way to lift Christ up in all of our actions…in the way we live our lives. Let’s find a way to not condemn unbelievers. Let’s find a better way to love people. Let’s find freedom! Let’s find a way to “do it all for the glory of God.”
“Religion is not good. Religion killed Jesus.” – Mark Driscoll.