Friday, November 1, 2013

Making One Stumble and Making One Uncomfortable Are Not the Same Thing

Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.
-1 Corinthians 8:13

Yesterday was Halloween, whether you celebrated it or not. A holiday, which has become a bit of a controversy in my house over the years due to two different cultural interpretations from the church. My wife, Argentinean beauty, and the church within her culture have made Halloween a black and white issue. There is no room for middle ground or different interpretation in their mind, it is clearly the Devil's holiday and by participating in anyway then you are basically worshipping the Devil. As a side note, if one understands the culture of Argentina and where they are coming from then it is easier to understand why they view it this way.

In the US, we tend to interpret things many different ways, even within the church. I believe to simplify things, one has three options with almost any controversial topic or decision. One can reject, receive, or redeem. When it comes to Halloween in the US context you will find that all three of those choices are found within the Christian community.

Personally, I see the God of the Bible reconciling and redeeming all things back to himself, which has led me to be amongst the group that believes a holiday such as Halloween can be redeemed for the glory of God if done the right way. But this post really is not about Halloween, thank God (as if we needed another one this year), but this post is about whether making one stumble and uncomfortable are the same thing.

I used Halloween as my example because it is fresh on everyone's minds as most of you are likely dealing with a candy hangover this morning. I easily could use the one that gets everyone's attention by discussing alcohol. For now, I am going to let that one rest because I have written on it in the past and most of you know my biblical view.

So, is making one stumble and making one uncomfortable the same thing? Paul, clearly tells us in 1 Corinthians 8 not to make our brother stumble because by doing so we may cause them to wound their conscience and sin. Many of us have misinterpreted this passage over the years to not do many things, but in reality Jesus himself drank and ate with sinners, which made people very uncomfortable.

Making one stumble and making one uncomfortable are not the same thing, and we should stop interpreting them as if they are. I used to struggle through this myself because I realized that literally everything that I did on a daily basis would make some tribe of professing Christians uncomfortable. I won't list any examples because the list would be endless and this post alone would take over a day to write and read.

The two things are separate issues that can usually be figured out quite easily. If there is something you do such as drink alcohol, do not do it with or around the Christian brother that struggles with alcoholism. If it is a matter of a brother that is uncomfortable around alcohol, such as I was at one time in life, then perhaps discuss and study the biblical view of alcohol to help one feel less uncomfortable and come to a proper biblical interpretation.

Zach Lee gave a good reminder this week that "God doesn't want you to do something you cannot do in faith (Romans 14:23), but don't judge those that participate in certain things out of a good conscience." Ultimately allow the Lord to lead each of you in all things to his glory.

1 comment:

  1. Great distinction, and one not often discussed. I've probably conflated the two myself from time to time. Causing someone to stumble in the passages where Paul talks about it is limited in meaning to causing someone whose faith is weak enough that they could fall into sin, by violating their conscience or in some other way, in seeing your example.