Lesson 6 -- second quarter 2000
April 9, 2000
© Copyright 2000, Christian Light Publications
Soon we will reach the half-way point for this quarter. I'm wondering how the Corinthian church strikes you by now. Would you agree that it was "the problem church of the New Testament"? Hmmm. I wonder if my congregation or yours would rank as the problem church of the early twenty-first century. I think we struggle with some of the same root issues that made the Corinthians battle so.
Take liberty, knowledge, service and love in today's lesson. How I wish we would have resolved these matters long ago! Oh that our individual and corporate lives demonstrated purity, integrity and maturity in these areas!
Having been set free by Jesus Christ, just how free is the Christian? Obviously we are not free to do what the Bible forbids. That cuts out a wide range of activities (gossip to murder) and thoughts (lust to evil surmisings) and attitudes (arrogance to laziness).
But I thought I had been set free! What kind of freedom is that, if it has all kinds of restrictions? I mean, go ahead and lay down your regulations, just don't try to foist on me this notion that I am now experiencing liberty! Nonsense, right? We wouldn't indulge such preposterous notions, would we. Of course we wouldn't! We know the importance of abstaining from evil; we know it is absolutely beneficial and essential for us. We wouldn't chafe at not having the freedom to do wrong. Good for us.
Before we get to self-congratulatory, though, let's not forget that not being free to do what the Bible forbids has a dimension we miss too easily (purposefully?). Did you know the Bible forbids causing another to stumble?
I know. The rubber really meets the road on that one, doesn't it. I can have such a hard time giving up something good "just because" a brother or a sister can't handle it. So I need to get beyond such a perspective. I need to see it as refusing to do something the Bible expressly forbids: causing another to stumble.
Christian liberty sets us free to love one another. We have to be free before we can love? Oh yes. We have to be set free from ourselves. And isn't self the biggest hindrance to giving up something legitimate "just because" someone else has a problem with it? Sure it is! So often I want them to "get over it." I think it's more important for me to get over myself!
You may think that So-and-So shouldn't be so immature as to stumble over such things (whatever they may be). Don't let the immaturity and lack of spirituality you perceive in them keep you from maturity and spirituality. Why should you disobey just because you see disobedience in them?! Be thou an example of the believers.
Do you think you are the only one doing the "bending"? The solution isn't to quit bending, no matter how attractive and sensible that may seem. Rather, ask God to renew your love. "By love serve one another" isn't just a theory.
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