Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Gray Matters

Recently, we've been discussing two dangerous extremes in following God.

One is legalism. Legalism involves rules. We set rules to keep us away from "bad" and direct us to "good." They give us a way to demonstrate that we are good and evaluate where we stand in comparison with others (and God). We can watch someone and give them an "attaboy" or "tisk, tisk" - whichever is required.

Second is license. License involves a lack of rules or accountability. Essentially, the guiding idea is "I want to do it, therefore I am." This is the idea that God is loving and wouldn't punish sin. Often, it doesn't even deal with sin. The basic idea is "I'm going to do it because that's what I want to do!" If you want to see a quick picture, watch a three year old for a few hours - you'll get the idea.

The problem is that the rules are often manufactured in response to some excess or struggle that we want to "weed out." Therefore, we outlaw any foray into that area. There is no consideration for the individual believer - their conscience, past experience/struggles, strengths and weaknesses, etc. Also, there is a tendency to go beyond even the guidelines that God has given. In a sense, we can throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Why do we do it? One reason is because we're lazy. Unbalanced positions don't require discernment. You don't have to be informed completely or ask difficult questions. You just have to have a verse or two (or even just an opinion) and off you go!

Discernment is difficult and takes work, but it is the pathway to enjoying God.

". . . find out what pleases the Lord. . . Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is. Ephesians 5:10,15-16

Where are some areas that you've experienced the struggle of license and legalism?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Matters of Christian liberty

Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. One man's faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge someone else's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.

Romans 14:1-8

The issue of gray areas and Christian liberty can be difficult waters to navigate. Being able to properly discern a gray area presupposes that you already know what the Bible expressly forbids. This is only complicated by the fact that God laid down some rules for for the Israelites in the Old Testament that no longer apply to Christians today. How are we to handle all of this?

A simple attitude of grace and humility is needed, as well as honesty between you and the Lord about your own "areas of conscience", those things that others may do but you cannot. As the passage above points out, both parties on either side of an area of conscience can fall prey to a judgmental attitude. Those who partake in a gray matter (ha ha, brain joke) may be tempted to look down on those who do not as being weaker Christians. And those who do not partake in a gray matter may be tempted to condemn as sinful those who do.

No matter which side of such issues you fall on, the guideline is to treat your fellow believers with sensitivity and grace. The freedom we have in Christ is not freedom to sin (liscence) but rather freedom to fellowship with both stronger and weaker Christians in an attitude of humility, rather than dividing down lines of conscience.

However, this should not be confused with the idea that we should never judge, confront, or hold accountable a fellow follower of Christ. When an issue crosses over from a gray area into something that is prohibited in black and white terms by the Bible (for instance drinking a beer crosses over into many beers and getting drunk), it ceases to be a gray area and becomes a matter that must be dealt with in the manner Jesus laid out for us in Matthew 18.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

New worship music!

Hello friends!
This is our first installment of new music we haven't sung at Redeemer yet. So download, learn, and sing loud when we play 'em! The live links will take you straight to iTunes where you can download the songs. Enjoy!

At the Cross - Daniel Renstrom - Adore and Tremble
Before There Was Time - Caedmon's Call - In the Company of Angels
Hosanna - Starfield - I Will Go
Let Us Love and Sing and Wonder - Daniel Renstrom - Adore and Tremble