Romans 14; 1 Samuel 26; Psalm 69
Freedom brings out the best in people…and the worst. Some people take their freedom and find ways to use it for others as they follow God. Some people take it to mean that they have no restrictions and do what they want without regard for others. The clash of those attitudes has been with the church ever since the beginning. Paul dealt with the problem at Rome. “Therefore do not let your good be spoken of as evil; for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 14:16-17) The major issue back then was the way they ate. One of the few restrictions the early church leaders had placed on Christians was that they couldn’t eat food polluted by idols, meat that was strangled and blood. There was a problem though. Most of the meat available in the Gentile world was sold at markets attached to pagan Temples. People would bring in their sacrifices, the priests would get their cut and what they didn’t eat would be put out for sale. It was usually the best meat at the best price. Either that or their non-believing friends would hold a party with their sacrificed meat and invite Christians over. Some Christians began to point out that since these idols were false and not really gods, it would be ok to eat that meat. (See also I Corinthians 8) Paul reminded these folks who were too “strong” in their faith that they could undermine their brothers and sisters in the faith and also keep others from committing to faith in Jesus if there was no difference in behavior. While accepted by society, Christians should be extremely wary of accepting such behavior. Today that debate still continues. Meat may not be the issue now, but there is still the tug to accept what society accepts in spite of the clear word of God speaking against it. Each day we have set before us the opportunity to follow God’s way or use our freedom to rebel against God and His word. Whether the case be what we eat or drink, sexual immorality or the killing of innocents, the responsibility that comes with our God given freedom should drive us to follow and obey God. When we fail to follow God’s plan, we are no longer salt and light in a dark and tasteless society, we are just one of the crowd. God help us all.
Oh God, I value my freedom so much that I often forget my responsibility to live for You. Give me the strength to follow You when the lures of my culture drag me to follow their ways. May my life truly reflect that I belong to You.