Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Stumbling Blocks


We live in a world now where social media is a big part of everyday life and in the course of the day you might post all manner of statuses and pictures.  What I’d like to do today is make you more aware of what you post. Why you post it and How it may make others feel. Why we should put more thought into our digital life.
It seems odd to talk about social media in a Biblical framework. However this is what God placed on my heart tonight. For the first time in a long time I feel lead to teach tonight.

 I sat down with a friend at Applebee’s tonight.  My friend doesn’t attend church and I was curious to ask him a question. 

“Jason” I said, “What would you think if I ordered a beer?”

“I’d think something was wrong” he said.

“Why’s that?” I asked.

“Well” he said you just got out of church and you are a Christian.”   
“I’d think something went wrong”

“But why?” I asked again

“Because Christians don’t drink” was his reply.

Now the conversation went on from there. We talked about people who go to church and talk boldly of Christ in the church but go out and live a life devoid of God’s influence.
I got what I wanted from him however. I wanted to know from an unchurched person what they thought if a Christian was out drinking.

The idea is out there whether you like it or not that drinking is not seen as the action of a Christian. 

The Bible as may advocates of Christian drinking will tell you, doesn’t say you aren’t supposed to drink. It doesn’t say drinking is a sin. 
Frankly I don’t think it is a sin actually.  My issue comes with what others think it is.

If my non Christian friends think Christians don’t drink and they see me doing it or loud and proud posting pictures of my various alcoholic beverages online it hurts my witness to the very people I need to be an example to the most.

Odds are while as a Christian drinker you have a prepared dogma to tell people (usually fellow Christians) whom confront you about it.
Most the time the person who sees you doesn’t confront you. Sometimes they are just like  my friend Jason and immediately either think you aren’t a Christian. Or worse they don’t see a difference in the way you live outwardly and how they do. 

After all they believe there is a God and he’s cool with what you want to do as long as you don’t hurt anyone and you believe in him.

What you have done is place a stumbling block in the way of someone else’s walk.

Inadvertently, you didn’t mean to. All you wanted was a margarita while you were at the mexican restaurant, a beer while you watch the game or post a picture of you unwinding after a days work. 

In Romans 14:13 Paul mentions being a stumbling block to others.   

“Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.”

Paul is talking about meat in this case. Meat that had been animal sacrifices to pagan Gods.
He’s telling us that nothing is wrong with the meat. It’s fine to eat. It’s not a sin.
However if it offends a fellow believer that you bought or ate that meat, then you shouldn’t do it.  You are causing another believer to look at what your doing and possibly have a crisis of faith.

You have the perfect liberty to eat and drink whatever you want there is no sin in the food. If what you are doing causes spiritual harm to another then give up your liberty for their good.

Note paul doesn’t get upset at the person whom is offended by the act. On the contrary. With a heart of Love he acts intentionally to not offend them any longer.

Choosing someone elses comfort over his.

1 Corinthians 10:23-24 says “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. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.

This should be considered in all we do. Constantly we should ask is what I’m doing Beneficial, Benign, or Harmful to myself and to others.

Ask yourself this when you go to make that facebook or social media post. Is posting your beer, bourbon or moonshine beneficial?  Is someone going to get something positive out of your post?
Is it benign? Will your post not say anything really about your life. How you live reflects Christ in your heart.  
Will your post cause damage? Will having 1 beer at Applebee’s cause damage?

I’m saying it can and like Paul, I believe that is enough reason to not “eat the meat
Likewise be aware of the language you use in your posts. We all know what swear words are. Those words may have different meanings elsewhere but here in your culture they are for lack of a better term “bad words”. The words themselves have no inherent “badness” to them. However they do have the stigma of being dirty words and we don’t say them because of that.

Is it a salvation issue? No, but what you say does come from whats in your heart and a foul mouthed Christian may need to look inward. 

“Abstain from all appearance of evil.” 1 Thessalonians 5:22

Again just because something doesn’t offend you doesn’t mean it isn’t a stumbling block to others.  
I refer once more to Romans 14:13 “Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.”

As Christians we are going to offend. For instance the biblical stance on homosexuality is going to offend a lot of people. 
Does that mean we should silence ourselves as to not be a stumbling block in a case like that?
Not at all. Somethings are black and white in the Bible and in those things there is no leeway. Drinking, and foul language grey.
We all know how those things appear to others still we know God doesn’t say a hard NO on them.  I add swearing in because while the bible is against foul language 

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Eph 4:29

People could and have made the argument that language evolves and what was foul at one time is no longer foul.

The problem with that is that as language evolves so does the appearance.

Curse words will always be known as curse words and for the foreseeable future drinking holds a non christian connotation. 

The Matthew Henry commentary puts it beautifully like this 
“Lawful things may be done unlawfully by giving offense to others.”

Some people I know will post something like that or make a comment just to start a debate. They enjoy the idea of being an evolved christian. They want to argue about it so they can tell you why you shouldn’t be offended and why they are essentially a better Christian. They post a random pic of their workspace or coffee table with a beer next to their computer or Bible just because they want the debate. They want to feel superior by  flaunting their open-mindedness and lack of what they call judgement.  
At some point by the way we lost the meaning of “judgement” didn’t we?
It went from discerning and condemning something to simply “not agreeing” with someone. Thats a blog for another day though.

Sometimes those posts as a friend put it one day, can be chalked up to spiritual immaturity. Which really helped me with the subject. Now when I see a post like that I can tell by the way its framed and how intentional the picture or post is if it’s just looking for a debate and I can schluff it off to immaturity.
 While I know the Bible doesn’t condemn it specifically. It causes me pause because it offends so many and the person that posts it  doesn’t see it as their problem.
To the person posting the pics and making the status updates. That think our offense is more a sign of our weakness in faith than their strength and freedom. I hope this makes you think differently about those you offend.
I urge you to examine your motives. I pray you ask yourself whether while not sinful if your actions might offend fellow Christians. Is it harmful, benign or helpful. What do you gain by making those posts? I’ve made you aware at least that it offends some people althoughI’m sure you already knew that. What do you lose by not posting them?
I’ll repeat myself here by quoting Romans 14:13 again
“Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.”

At your service
Alan

A special thanks to Terry a friend and inspiration. Thanks for the prayer brother 

3 comments:

  1. I enjoyed reading this Alan. You are right, people don't see the damage they do via social media. I think we all have some growing to do:-)

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  2. Alan I am so glad you had this on your heart & put it out there for us all to read. Since coming to LIFEPOINT I have been careful on the posts I even hit "like" on. It is a given CHOICE what we say,do and view---& we should keep our fellow brother & sisters in mind on how our CHOICES can impact their lives positive or negatively. Thank you Bro for the much needed reminder!!!!!!!!

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  3. Alan I am glad you had this laid on your heart and put it out here for us to read. Since I have been going to LIFEPOINT I have been careful when I'm scrolling through Facebook on what I even hit "like" on. We are all given a CHOICE what we say,do and see. We should keep in mind how this can impact our fellow brothers & sisters. Thank you for reminding us that our CHOICES can & will affect others either positive or negatively. Thank you Bro !!!!!!!!!

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