Sunday, March 25, 2012
It's about others…
1Cor. 10:31 ¶ So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.
1Cor. 10:32 Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God,
1Cor. 10:33 just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, so that they may be saved.
These words come at the close of Paul's discourse on being willing to eat meat which may have been offered to idols. Often there were those who could not afford to purchase the good cuts of meat. The "second hand" products, which had been used in idol worship were cheaper to purchase. However, there were some who refused to eat the food placed before them at the church pot-luck by the poorer folks. One can see them raising their noses in disgust, being holy folks, who would never touch something that had been offered to an idol. The poor person's feelings are hurt as all they can see is that what they've prepared isn't "good enough" for the wealthier members of the fellowship.
Paul says to put all of this aside and realize that even when it comes to eating and drinking, the one rule is that we are to do it to God's glory. That means that you must be sensitive to the needs and concerns of others around you. In other words, you must contextualize eating and drinking so that it gives glory to God, and helps bring people closer to God. Paul was literally saying your attitude toward what is placed before you may be the difference between someone being saved or not!
So often we have taken these verses and we have made them about ourselves. Yes, may my food and drink be a glory to God! It's not about the food and the drink, it's about our attitude when we eat and drink -- so that others can be saved. Have I ever been in a situation where I've had unusual food placed before me? Having traveled to many corners of the world, I'd have to say "yes." However, sometimes it's not when we go to the far corners of the world, but sometimes in our own neighborhood that we need to be sensitive. I remember when living in Texas we were invited to a Quinceañera. There were those Anglos who attended who were picky about what they would eat -- and yet, the foods placed before us were considered the very finest! Even when something is new to us, we have to remember, this is not about us….it's about them. I must, give God glory by participating in the party to which I have been invited. I can never complain about the food, which might be foreign to me, but I must, with great joy, delve into the celebration with my brothers and sisters.
But it's not always just about food and drink. This whole conversation has to do with living in kingdom culture. In kingdom culture, the human cultural divides are destroyed. We become a part of the kingdom culture that no longer demands their own way of doing things, but rather, always does things for others. Kingdom culture is servant culture. Kingdom culture is willing to accept others' cultural practices into their own for the sake of the kingdom. Why is that? -- because it's not about us, it's about them! Exercise your right today to submit to others around you in the new kingdom to which you have been called to be an ambassador.
Lord, help me to continue to enjoy the adventure with you and in your kingdom. Amen.