Thursday, January 8, 2015

on liberty and community

“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.
1 Corinthians 10:23-24

Christian liberty is a great thing. But I fear that I am guilty, along with my "i-Generation" of abusing it. We have created such a consumer culture in modern evangelicalism in America that the highest value gets placed on personal expressions. That is why churches that may preach the gospel quite well are shirked for ones that instead have lots of activities custom designed for personal desires to be met. I have heard more than one believer rationalize their choice with this sort of thinking. It is so unbiblical.

My personal liberty is not what Jesus came to affirm. He set me free from sin, but He called me to service as His slave. That's what a Lord is... a controller of someone else's destiny. This is supposed to be true of every Christian. But celebrating my "likes" is not what this kind of discipleship is about. It should be about worship within in a community of people redeemed from the world into the service of their King! This is why even our liberty must seek the good of others around us, and not be wasted on our own pleasures.

God made each of us unique. That is something that celebrates the wondrous creativity of our Maker. But it does not follow that all my preferences are holy. I am corrupted by a sin nature and have to look out for its influence even on the good way God made me. In fact, if I make my preferences the standard for another person, I am not being holy at all, but selfishly sinful. For instance, I love pecan pie. But if I insist that you only serve it to me, and that when you are with me, you must eat it, I have become insanely selfish. If I refuse to taste the vanilla pudding that you love, I am not acting like a redeemed child of God.

And so, I must balance my "likes" and liberties with your likes and liberties. And together God makes us into something that He is building up for His glory. Together we hold our personal desires up to Christ, repent of any sinful, selfish taints in them, and rejoice as God blends us into His holy church.

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