Summary: We examine the freedom of our country and the freedomt that we have in Christ. Paul is indicating that freedom also means responsibility. We’ll see how that impacts us.
Drink (and Eat) Responsibly
July 5, 2009
As we celebrate Independence Day, I want to talk a little more about freedom. On Memorial weekend, we looked at a passage in 1 Corinthian 10 where Paul recounts the deliverance of Israel from slavery to freedom and then the Israelites failure to appreciate their freedom led to destructive actions. It was appropriate to reflect on our freedom and be thankful for the sacrifices made by so many for the freedom that we have and seek God’s call for the sacrifices that we may need to make in order to continue our legacy of faith and freedom.
Paul is using the story of Israel to get to his point about the freedom of the church. We have been given an immense freedom in Christ. Because of this freedom we have great responsibilities. What Paul is emphasizing is that followers of Jesus should not be worried about eating and drinking items that could have been dedicated to evil purposes without our knowledge. We are free and should not worry about the “what ifs” because as long as our motives are pure and we give proper thanks to God who provided the food or drink, then we are under no condemnation.
The monks at a remote monastery deep in the woods followed a rigid vow of silence. Their vow could only be broken once a year—on Christmas—by one monk. That monk could speak only one sentence. One Christmas, Brother Thomas had his turn to speak and said, "I love the delightful mashed potatoes we have every year with the Christmas roast!" Then he sat down. Silence ensued for 365 days.
The next Christmas, Brother Michael got his turn and said, "I think the mashed potatoes are lumpy, and I truly despise them!" Once again, silence ensued for 365 days.
The following Christmas, Brother Paul rose and said, "I am fed up with this constant bickering!" Let’s take a closer look at this passage.
Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry. I speak to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.
Consider the people of Israel: Do not those who eat the sacrifices participate in the altar? Do I mean then that a sacrifice offered to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons. Are we trying to arouse the Lord’s jealousy? Are we stronger than he?
"Everything is permissible"—but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible"—but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.
Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, for, "The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it."
If some unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience. But if anyone says to you, "This has been offered in sacrifice," then do not eat it, both for the sake of the man who told you and for conscience’ sake— the other man’s conscience, I mean, not yours. For why should my freedom be judged by another’s conscience? If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for?
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.
So the main idea of this message is that we need to drink responsibly. Well, eat responsibly as well.
Drink (and Eat) Responsibly
Most of us know that this is the mantra of the alcohol industry for the last few years. Drink responsibly. I guess it is an attempt to absolve themselves of the responsibility when people abuse alcohol and break the law while under the influence.
However Paul is basically saying the same thing in regards to believers. Apparently it had become a big deal to “watch what you eat” not for health reasons but for religious reasons. During the time period of Jesus and later Paul, much of life revolved around religion and ritual. Meals were a central aspect to religion and the Jewish religion was no exception. Food would be brought as a sacrifice to the gods. It would be consecrated. The Jews were especially concerned about eating food that may have been consecrated to false gods as either an implicit endorsement of the false religions or a violation of their own purity. The meat that would be “bar-be-cued” (if you will) during these religious ceremonies would be taken to the market and sold. After all the false gods wouldn’t really be eating it and because the religious authorities often required frequent sacrifices as they would be able to eat this food, many times there was plenty.