Jesus tells us the greatest commandment is to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. In this 5-week series, Pastor Tito will explore what it means to follow through on being a follower of Jesus Christ, looking at how our relationship with God should affect each of these aspects of our life. When it comes to being a Christian, believing is just the beginning. There is more to it than just praying a prayer and attending a weekly service.
This week we learn what it means to love the Lord with all of your SOUL
Read the Sermon Summary below
SOUL ACTIVITY 3
EAT, DRINK, LOVE
“We love others best when we love God most” — Kyle Idleman
There is one thing that every country has in common when it comes to what they eat. Every culture has their own version of soul food. Soul food is called comfort food for a reason. The delicious, and mostly unhealthy, options just seem to land in the deepest pit of one’s being. It’s a profound form of satisfaction. It is from a similar place that Christians are expected to follow through on in following Jesus with a deep sense of joy and fulfillment.
The is a difference between eating our favorite snacks and following our Savior. We eat a handful of times a day while we ought to be pursuing and reflecting Christ continually without pause or hesitation. Following Jesus is not just something that is done for about an hour on Sunday. It’s something we are called to do 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. At first you might be thinking, “How is that possible?”.
Yes, there are going to be times that we have to work or communicate throughout the day that might not be the best time to ask for prayer request or make an invitation for salvation. But that doesn’t mean something can’t be done.
Loving God with all your soul means reflecting God while we are pursuing Him with our identity and our choices. We end up doing things for the glory of God when we realize that everything we do is an opportunity to show others what God has done for us.
“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience. For “the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.” If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience— I do not mean your conscience, but his. For why should my liberty be determined by someone else’s conscience? If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks? 1 Corinthians 10:23-11:1 (ESV)
In his letter to a confused and rebellious Church, Paul is trying to help them to better be a brighter light in their community for the Gospel. One key theme that he unpacks in this letter is the principle of the sacred right of conscience. This is something that has been cherished and valued in America since her founding. The sacred right of conscious was so revered that it was first on the list to be inshrined in the US Constitution as the first amendment to be added to the Bill of Rights.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. – Amendment 1 of the Bill of Rights
People were encouraged to live according to the way that they believed and thought to be best. There was one catch though. I cannot deny someone else’ right so that I can live out my own. Thomas Jefferson said, “The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.” This is an example of tolerance, though the definition has changed over time.
To tolerate someone technically means to treat another person with dignity and respect despite any differences in opinions or lifestyles. Today, tolerance is defined as an expectation to accept, endorse, and even celebrate another’s ideas, feelings, and decisions regardless of how that might affect your own conscious. That definition of tolerance is actually a perfect example of intolerance which forces to bend the will of others to one’s own without their consent. This is the core of the issue that Paul is trying to address with this letter.
Just because you have a right to do something, it doesn’t mean that it’s the right thing to do.
There were many disputes in the Corinthian church about what was “lawful” or legal when it came to living as a Christian. Two thousand years later, we are still having similar debates about what a Christian should eat, drink, dress, act, and behave. Many of the questions have already been addressed by God Himself in His Word. The option to steal, lie, kill, fornicate, or withhold forgiveness is not up for debate. God has spoken. But what about other specific things that we have in our culture today like genres of music and other things that differ from culture to culture that are not clearly defined in the scriptures?
Paul says that the defining decision should be love when it comes to any dispute over conscious. The example Paul gives is specific to eating meat. Some Christian felt that a Christian shouldn’t eat meat if it had been dedicated to a false god. Others felt there was no problem because there is no other god but the Lord God. Rather than argue and allow division to creep in, Paul says that love should decide in the moment.
If eating meat dedicated to a false God would bother your neighbor, then don’t eat it even if it doesn’t bother you. If participating in a certain activity would bother you neighbor, then avoid the action even if it doesn’t bother you. The focus should always be to think of others rather than yourself. What benefit would there be if you offend a brother or force him to go against his own conscious? That would be a sin, even it the action doesn’t lead you personally to sin.
Just because you have a right to believe in something, doesn’t mean that you will always be right.
Another reason why we should be considerate of others conscious is because one of us could be wrong. Whatever action that is not mentioned in scripture should be judged based on how helpful it is and how much it builds up everyone into a stronger relationships with God. I know people who avoid eating, drinking, or doing certain things because they have a guilty conscious about it, which hurts their relationship with God. Then again, I know others who can do some of those same things while having no affect on their relationship with God. What matters then is humility and patience.
Loving someone with a weaker conscious their yours can help them to live with greater freedom and liberty in Christ. Also, loving others with a different opinion than yours might lead you to grow in your understanding, causing you to leave behind ways of thinking and living that you can now see has been effecting your relationship with God the whole time.
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved. Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. 1 Corinthians 10:23-11:1
Paul begins to wrap up the case for considering another’s conscious by encouraging them to see that everything that they do is an opportunity to showcase what God has already done for them. You bring glory to God and love Him with your soul when you put others before yourself. The reason why we should be willing to lay down our rights is in hopes that God can save them and make things right in their lives. It’s about winning a soul more than it is an argument.
When reading Paul’s charge, the word “offense” stood out to me. Obviously people will not feel loved if they are being offended. That seems harder in today’s world because there are so many snowflakes who get offended when someone doesn’t celebrate everything they believe and do, while expecting their offender not to be offended that they are not being as accepting towards them. We don’t live in a world that values “Treat others as you would like others to treat you”. We live in a culture that encourages people to “Treat others exactly how they treat you”. The point of offense in sports is to score points, and the one with the most points in the end wins. But in a practical sense, keeping score is no way to win at life and develop healthy relationships. Putting others before oneself is the key.
An example that comes to mind is the story of Desmond Doss. During WW2 he felt a strong conviction to serve in the military, even though he had a reason to be exempt. Not only did he feel he would be going his conscious to stay home but he also refused to work on the Sabbath (Saturday) and even touch a gun, which came about from a traumatic experience as a child. Is it a sin for someone to refuse to go to way, own a gun, or work on Saturday? No. But for Doss, it was wrong. He was labeled by the military as a “Conscientious Objector”, but he preferred the term “Conscientious Cooperator” seeing how he still wanted to fight and serve with others who didn’t have the same view and opinions as he did.
Because of his convictions, he was ridiculed and even abused, yet he never lost sight of the goal. Doss wanted to save a life rather than take a life. In a world that was tearing itself apart, he desired to put a little of it back together. After much difficulties, Doss won the respect of his peers by staying behind alone on top of a ridge one night and personally rescuing an estimated 75 wounded soldiers. His prayer that night was a simple one. “God, give me one more”.
Doss lived true to the convictions of his soul, never failing to show compassion to his objectors or even compromise in the slightest. Despite being horrified by the gruesomeness of war, Doss glorified God that night on that ridge. As a result, lives were saved. In the same way, Paul says we too ought to put others first, not so we can save ourselves, but so God can save others like He has done for us. Living in this way is how we imitate Jesus, who laid down his comfort, preferences, rights, and life so that sinners could be saved. So next time you end up in a dispute over a grey area, or feel convicted to personally avoid certain behaviors, learn to lean on the love of God. There are too many people in this world trying to pull it apart. May the Church lay down our lives in love so that we can put a little of it back together again through the power of our Lord Jesus Christ.