Our Responsibility to Others
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Our Responsibility to Others
1 Corinthians 8:1-13
As followers of Christ, we have a responsibility to fulfill the commands of the Christ. We are to in effect be like Christ and do as he would do. He gave us a job to do before he ascended into heaven and that was to preach the Gospel to all nations. However, I believe we also have another responsibility to the other followers around us. We have a responsibility to do all that we can to help them and guide them so that they will not stumble. I also believe that if we do not fulfill this responsibility then we too may stumble ourselves.
In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, he talks about the responsibility that mature Christians have to newer follower of Christ. The City of Corinth was not a Christian city. Paul had started a church there but this did not mean that the entire city decided to follow Christ before he left. No, he started a small church of believers and equipped them to continue the mission on their own while he went on to start more churches. Corinth was a city that had a lot of idol worship and animal sacrifices to these idols. Because of that it was nearly impossible to buy any meat in Corinth that was not sacrificed to idols. Therefore, this begs the question, should the Christians in Corinth eat the meat of animals that were sacrificed to these idols?
Paul explains to the Corinthians that they have a new found freedom in following Christ for they now know the truth. As Christ followers they know that these idols are nothing and therefore the meat sacrificed to these idols is really nothing more than just meat. Therefore, with this knowledge eating this meat is neither harmful or good for you. It is simply just meat. However, just because you yourself are strong in your faith does not mean everyone else around you are the same. There may be others new to the faith who are not fully mature in this understanding of freedom. Therefore, eating this meat sacrificed to idols may become a stumbling block to them and caused them to fall away from the faith. Paul explains that we have a responsibility to these new believers to help them not to stumble. This means if eating meat is going to cause a new believer to sin then it is better to not eat meat so that we are not being the stumbling block for them.
This same concept and context of responsibility to others can be applied to other areas of life as well. If a new believer struggles with pornography, then we have a responsibility to dress ourselves in a manner to not cause that person to stumble back into their old ways. If someone struggles with alcohol then we have a responsibility to not be a stumbling block to them therefore we should also not drink alcohol. If a new believer struggles with pedophilia, then we have a responsibility to help keep them away from children. If a believer struggles with gluttony, then we have a responsibility to eat healthy and modestly ourselves.
Paul speaks these things as one of authority as that authority comes from Jesus Christ. In our passage in Mark today, we see that Jesus is teaching in a synagogue and people are surprised because he is not teaching in the same way that they hear the scribes and the priests teach. The scribes would preach in the 3rd person. This means that they were teaching in a way that would show that they themselves were not the one in authority and rightfully so. However, Jesus was different. Jesus was teaching in the 1st person showing that he himself was the one in authority. He proves this to be true when a demon possessed person come announcing that he is the son of the most high. The demon knows that he has authority and Jesus chooses to exercise such authority by commanding the demon out of this person.
Because Jesus is the authority, it is through him that we have this new responsibility to others through our faith in him. Yes, we have a freedom in Christ and with that freedom and knowledge we have a freedom in knowing that many of the things that the priests had called unclean are now made clean in Christ. We have the knowledge that idols are nothing and when animals are sacrificed to such idols this is also nothing for the idol is nothing. We have the knowledge in our freedom of Christ of what is sinful and what is not sinful. In that knowledge and freedom, we have a responsibility to those who are still weak in their faith to help them along and strengthen their faith. We have a responsibility to help keep them from falling into sin. Unfortunately, there may be some things that though it may not be sinful to you because of your freedom in Christ that same thing may cause someone else to fall into sin because they lack the knowledge and maturity in faith to act responsibly. Therefore, if we cause one of these new believers to stumble because we are acting on our freedom in Christ then we inadvertently sin against our new brother or sister in Christ.
Scripture tells us in regarding causing children to stumble that it would be better for this person to tie a heavy millstone to themselves and throw it into the sea. New believers in Christ are just like children still learning their right from their left, still learning right from wrong. It is our responsibility to help them along this journey and lead them towards the freedom found in Christ. However, we cannot do this if we are causing them to stumble in the process.
Do not misuse your freedom in Christ to enjoy the many pleasures in life selfishly. While many of these things are not inherently sinful or evil, Satan will twist them into something that can become sinful. Alcohol can be used for sterilization and the fermentation itself can have some health benefits and it can be used in some flavorful cooking. However, when consumed to the point of continued drunkenness this may be twisted into sin. Sex is designed to be pleasurable between a husband and wife and is used to bring forth the blessing of offspring. However, Satan may use it as a stumbling block to others and cause some to sin against their spouse our cause others to fall into fornication. We therefore, have a responsibility to use our freedom in Christ responsibly and do what we must to save others from the transgressions of sin. If that means that we do not eat meat or we do not consume alcohol, or we do not wear makeup, or we dress differently than the rest of the world then so be it. Better to abstain from these things than to cause someone else to sin.
Are there things your life today that are causing you to stumble. Are there things in your life that are also causing others around you to stumble as well. You have a responsibility through the authority of Christ to help others to live on a path of righteousness. Are you willing to set aside the things in your life that may be keeping your friends and family from following Christ? I pray that you will.