Monday, November 11, 2013
It’s Not About Me
1Cor. 10:23 ¶ “All things are lawful,” but not all things are beneficial. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up.
1Cor. 10:24 Do not seek your own advantage, but that of the other.
For a community of people who had a been raised with the Jewish law, the freedoms found in following Christ were a bit astounding. Now, in this new community of faith you had those from a strict religious background and pagans who had never worshiped the living God. The first council meeting in Jerusalem had laid down some basic restrictions for these believers but they were simple and gave a great amount of freedom. They were struggling in their freedom to find the right boundaries for there were those who were comfortable celebrating the pagan holidays of the past and eating meat that had been offered to idols. This did not bother them spiritually and yet there were those within the community of faith who were greatly disturbed by these behaviors.
Paul had to remind the congregation in Corinth that they were united together in a family of faith. Therefore the behavior of one had an effect on the others. The Greek word that is translated above “build up” can also be translated as edify but the root of the word comes from the word “family.” It has to do with the building up or construction of the family unit. Therefore yes, all things are lawful, but not everything that we do will be helpful to this new family of faith of which you are a part. The interconnectedness of the believers within the faith community was of vital importance to the Apostle Paul and should be to us as well.
This weekend I was a teen retreat where the young people had been encouraged to share “their story.” Large red papers had been hung throughout the chapel, papers on which they had illustrated or written highlights from “their story.” Over and over again the stories included divorce, parents missing from their lives, abuse, violence, drugs and prison. I was stunned at the number of times I saw these themes recurring. And we wonder why our young people struggle so?
Within those stories I also saw great self-centeredness. Not on the part of these children, but on the part of the adults who were supposed to be raising them. These red pages screamed out, “It’s all about me!” Parents who had no concern for the consequences of their behavior on the family unit for whom they were to have been responsible. Instead, we have children and teens who have been fending for themselves for years and don’t know what it means to be a part of a community of faith in which they can feel safe — in a community who says “it’s not about me” but it’s about building this family of faith.
And that brings us to a moment of self-examination. Do we realize that we have a responsibility within the family of faith for ALL of those who are a part of our communion? We may feel that we have the freedom to do what we want — for we have great freedom in Christ. Yes, I can go to that party and I’ll be okay. Maybe you will be okay, but what about your friend who dabbles in some drugs and finds himself addicted. Do you have any responsibility for him?
Or, we may say that it’s okay to engage in social drinking. You may rationalize that it’s not a problem for me or for my family, but what if the person at the end of the table comes from a family with a predisposition to alcoholism and you have just poured them the first glass that will lead them into a life of destructive behaviors. Do we have a responsibility for them?
Too often we have thought about our Christian walk as simply between God and me! However, there is so much more involved. We may try to convince ourselves that what we do has no effect on others, and yet it most certainly does. We cannot make decisions about what “we” want without realizing the implications for the entire family — and faith family as well.
Paul had come to realize that his relationship with Jesus Christ was not just about him personally, but about bringing others to a personal relationship with the Lord. If we are to be a part of building a family, then we have family responsibilities. We cannot shirk those responsibilities and focus only on ourselves. Instead we must come to realize that all of our actions, reactions and behaviors will have a direct effect on the family. Will we do what we do for the good of others, or are we only concerned about ourselves? We need a good daily reminder that, “It’s not about me!”
Lord, please help me to keep others first. Amen.