Summary: Many Christians had no problem with relating to their pagan family and friends by eating this meat offered to idols. Life would have been so simple if other Christians had not taken an opposite view.
Dr. James H. Robinson, a great black preacher in New York, tells of how he
use to sit on the steps of the public library in Knoxville. He would watch the
white people go in, and he would be filled with resentment because he wanted to
read and learn, but the doors were closed to blacks. He came to hate white
people, and he would look up at the high water tower and wish he could poison it
and kill all the white people in Knoxville. There were 3 reasons he never did it.
1.He didn't have the poison. 2. He was afraid of high places. 3. He could never
figure out how he could keep from the drinking the same water. The complexity
of his evil scheme is what prevented it from becoming a reality. Thank God for
complexity. If evil was always easy there would be even more of it, and a man
like Dr. Robinson may never have become a child of God and a servant of the
Complexity is a comfort. Much of our security in this life is based on
complexity. Man has devised locks and alarms to protect his possessions. Vaults
and guards protect his banks, and numerous methods are devised to make it too
complex for robbery. But complexity is also a challenge. People love to go into
politics and wrestle with the complex issues of society. They strive to come up
with a plan that benefits the majority. Scientists love to labor with the near
infinite complexity of diseases to figure out a way to conquer them. Most of the
challenges of our world that motivate people to dedicate their lives to a cause are
based on the reality of complexity.
Complexity is a comfort and a challenge, but it can also be a curse. If every
Christian had the same background, the same culture and the same personality,
life would be so much simpler. It may be boring, but it would be simple.
Needless to say, this is not the way life really is. Christians have all different
backgrounds, and they come out of radically different cultures. Their
personalities are like fingerprints, and no two are exactly alike. This can be a
comfort and a challenge, but history forces us to face up to the fact that this
complexity can also be a curse. It is a curse because people don't like other
people to be different. They like it when all Christians see everything from the
same perspective. If the viewpoints get too diverse there is suspicion that
somebody is on the wrong track.
This was the problem in the church of Corinth. Some of the Christians there
felt it was no problem whatever to eat meat offered idols. After all, the idols did
not really exist, and so it is a meaningless ritual that does nothing to the meat by
being offered to an idol, and so why be uptight about it? Giving it up was almost
like becoming a vegetarian, for practically all meat was offered to some idol. If
your pagan family, which you came out of to become a Christian, invited you to
a wedding, a funeral, or just a family picnic or social, you would be served meat
that had been offered to an idol. It was a part of the pagan culture.
Many Christians had no problem with relating to their pagan family and friends by
eating this meat offered to idols. Life would have been so simple if other
Christians had not taken an opposite view.
These Christians said that the idols are real, and that they represent real evil
spirits and demons. Therefore, the Christian cannot be loyal to Christ and still
eat meat that has been offered to his opponents in the spirit world. They had an
conscience that was sensitive to this issue, and they were offended by Christians
who had the audacity to profess the name of Christ and then indulge in eating
such desecrated meat. This is where the curse of complexity comes in and which
explains why people love westerns so much. In a western the good guys and the
bad guys are so obvious. You always know whose side to be on. It is such
satisfying simplicity, and it helps us escape from the real world where things are
not so simple.
The Corinthians Christians were on two different sides of this issue, as
Christians often are on most controversial issues. Each group thought the other
group must be a pack of mutations and misfits in the body of Christ. It was no
minor matter limited to a handful of Christians. This was a major conflict in the
church. At the first church council described in Acts 15 the leaders of the
church, with Paul present, came to the conclusion that this was one of the things