The Church In Conflict With Culture


First Corinthians 8

The standard typewriter keyboard exemplifies our resistance to change. The most commonly used keys are intentionally placed far apart from each other.
The arrangement on the keyboard was strategically placed to slow down the typist so that the early machines in the 1800s would not jam. About forty years later, the keyboard was simplified and called the Dvorak Simplified Keyboard. The most frequently used keys were moved to the primary row of keys. Typists could type as much as five times as fast with this keyboard. The innovation never took. The reason: even when things could be more efficient, we don’t want to change.

During a service at an old synagogue in Eastern Europe, when the Shema prayer was said, half the congregants stood up and half remained sitting. The half that was seated started yelling at those standing to sit down and the ones standing yelled at the ones sitting to stand up. The rabbi, educated as he was in the Law and commentaries, didn’t know what to do. His congregation suggested that he consult a house-bound 98-year-old man, who was one of the original founders of their temple. The rabbi hoped the elderly man would be able to tell him what the actual temple tradition was, so he went to the nursing home with a representative of each faction of the congregation. The one whose followers stood during Shema said to the old man, “Is the tradition to stand during this prayer?” The old man answered, “No, that is not the tradition.” The one whose followers sat asked, “Is the tradition to sit during Shema?” The old man answered, “No, that is not the tradition.” Then the rabbi said to the old man, “The congregants fight all the time, yelling at each other about whether they should sit or stand.” The old man interrupted, exclaiming, “THAT is our tradition!”

Any church that is alive will always be living on the edge of heresy. A religion that does nothing, gives nothing, costs nothing, suffers nothing – is worth nothing. A church on the move must confront reality and meet people where they are. Separation is not isolation-it is contact without contamination.
Jesus was the friend of tax collectors and sinners. Many church members don’t have any unsaved friends, or if they do, they keep them at a distance. Jesus was crucified outside Jerusalem, where the crowd was so cosmopolitan that the inscription on his cross had to be written in three languages. Many churches today have abandoned the marketplace and spend their time reminding one another of the gospel.

“Today’s children are tyrants. They disobey their parents, gobble their food, and tyrannize their teachers. Do you know who wrote that? Socrates in 400 B.C.

So how does culture affect the Church? Things offered unto idols were the remainders of animals sacrificed to heathen gods. The problems, then, were these: Might a Christian partake of meat offered to a false god? Might a Christian buy and eat flesh offered to idols? Might a Christian, when invited to the home of a friend, eat flesh which had been offered to idols? Paul first sets forth general principles to guide the believer in these ticklish problems

Number One: Christians do possess knowledge, but it may be only superficial and incomplete. Knowledge is not sufficient for the solution of all problems, for by itself it is arrogant. Our knowledge of God is always incomplete. To love God brings both a knowledge of God and a sense of God’s knowledge of us. For example, in a palace everyone knows the king, but not everyone is known by the king. The second stage would indicate personal intimacy and consequent first-hand knowledge.

Number Two: An idol cannot really be a representation of God. How could wood or stone represent God’s incorruptibility? The apostle admits, however, that there are those called gods. It is the clean heart, and not clean food, that will matter; and the weak brother confounds the two

Number Three: From here to the end of the chapter Paul expounds the words, love builds up. Paul points out that meat in itself will not bring believers near to God. Paul warns the strong to take heed that their liberty does not prove a stumbling block to the weak. In other words, knowledge will not solve the problem. If Christ loved the brother enough to die for him, then the strong believer ought to love him enough to give up his right to eat certain meat. The decision to follow the path of love rests with Paul, not with the weak. The strong are to yield to love’s appeal voluntarily, not because the weak demand it Paul’s conclusion? Love, not knowledge, solves the problem. On moral matters, about which the Word has spoken, the Word is supreme. On morally indifferent matters, such as eating meat offered to idols, liberty is to be regulated by love.

Jesus said, The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10) Christianity is more then just a set of Laws. It is a way of life. It is every breath we take.

Ever wonder why the guy is supposed to carry his bride over the threshold?
It goes back to the Romans. They believed that good and evil spirits fought for control at a home’s entrance. For good to prevail, Romans felt you must enter a room with your right foot first. Thus entered the wedding scene when Romans concluded that a new bride in a highly emotional state might be careless and forget about the right foot stuff. To prevent possible tragedy, they decided it best for the groom to carry his bride. Maybe it is time we got off on the right foot with God as our foundation.

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