When My Liberty Becomes Your Stumbling Block
I am not going to belabour this topic, because the Word will preach Itself without my help. Suffice it to say, when my liberty as a Christian leader and example becomes your bondage, I am trading wisdom wrought by my spiritual maturity for the mere sake of being right.
What do I mean by that?
There are some things that I see no problem with that I recognize others in the Body of Christ, depending on their background, do take issue with. I do not have a conviction regarding those things. I can indulge in them freely knowing that I am not shunning the conviction of the Holy Spirit to my life, nor am I disobeying/disregarding Scripture. However, I am aware that many do not share those views. Therefore, for their sake, I do not flaunt those things in front of them. Why? Because what is liberty to me can and will become a stumbling block to them, and nothing is worth that.
My position as a leader in the Body of Christ (however small it may be, and whomever you might be) denotes that I steward my position wisely; not to openly indulge in things or promote things or overdo things because I have no personal conviction regarding them.
Conviction is not doctrine, I am well aware. What may be a conviction to you is not a conviction to another; it deals with working out YOUR particular soul’s salvation with fear and trembling. It deals with what God has (not yet) revealed to you, and where He’s called/calling you to. It’s not a corporate message, but a personal revelation.
Now I’m not talking about fornication, adultery, homosexuality, cheating on your taxes, or practicing witchcraft for Jesus (as if there were such a thing!). These things and things like them are clearly, openly, and consistently condemned in Scripture. A gospel that says you can do these things unrepentantly and still enter into the Kingdom of God is not the Gospel [of the Kingdom] at all, but a doctrine of devils sent to seduce the saints into sin. But that is not what I’m addressing here.
Some saints have convictions against women wearing pants and or makeup. Others have convictions against drinking (note, I did not say getting drunk!). Some have convictions against watching movies, T.V., or even reading the news! Others have convictions against dyeing or cutting your hair. Some worship on Saturdays, some on Fridays, and the rest of us on Sundays. Those are all convictions. All of which are more or less understandable, if not derived from the person/church/denomination’s understanding of Scripture per their personal or cultural preferences. Whatever it is (that is not clearly condemned in Scripture!) is fine for you if that is where God has led YOU. But when your conviction becomes as a doctrine to others, you have crossed the line. And when my freedom leads you to sin, we have a SERIOUS problem!
Take a look at the words of the Apostle Paul:
But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak. For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will not the conscience of him who is weak be emboldened to eat those things offered to idols? And because of your knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? But when you thus sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.(I Corinthians 8:9-13; read chapter in full for context)
Paul here is addressing the topic of food - specifically meat -because in the societal context, the meat of his day was generally understood to be offered to idols. The idea here, is that one group of people were willfully and happily taking their meat to be blessed by the same idols that they worshiped as part of their pagan lifestyle. In the Mosaic context, several things were unclean such as this type of meat. And in the Old Testament, while the goal was sanctification, it was more or less measured by what a person did or how they looked. It was about the outward appearance.
Now fast forward to the New Testament where God casts these RITUALISTIC laws away, all the while maintaining the moral law. Many Jewish converts to Christianity took issue with this and found it problematic to transition into the liberty found in Christ. In short, they were religious. Paul comes in and brings apostolic order to the situation. In Acts 10, Peter goes into a Holy Ghost-induced trance that deals with his religious spirit as a preparation for ministering to and converting the Gentiles. And yet knowing all of this, being a man of liberty himself, Paul REFUSES to allow his liberty to become a stumbling block to new, younger, and less mature Believers.
Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble. (I Corinthians 8:13)
Now, I’m sure Paul didn’t turn into a vegetarian or a vegan! What he likely meant is that he wasn’t going to eat meat IN FRONT OF THOSE PEOPLE in order to not create a stumbling block for them. This is done out of compassion for people which was the heart of Christ’s earthly ministry. We should follow His example.
But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. (Matthew 9:36)
Stirring Up Strife
Now let me be clear, there are absolutely those who have a religious spirit and need to have it either dealt with or cast out. Take your pick. Just like the newly converted Jews, we have many old school saints who think if you’ve got dyed hair, are a woman wearing pants, are a man wearing jeans in church, have piercings, or anything else that offends their religious sensibilities, then you’re going to Hell. As far as I’m concerned, they’re just as problematic as those preaching about their religious liberties. Why? Because they’re BOTH causing strife in the Body of Christ.
If you want to wear a suit to church, wear a suit! If you are a woman who wants to wear pants to church, wear pants! If you are a man and want to wear jeans to church, then wear jeans! (Y’all, just please make sure you’re pants are NOT painted on, and your booties or “equipment” are NOT highlighted and perfectly outlined for all to see!! BALANCE, people!!!) If you want to dye your hair, dye it! (Just make sure you keep your edges touched up, please!!) Enjoy your liberty!! So long as you are not engaging in biblical sin, or going against your personal convictions (which makes it a sin to YOU), or preaching your personal conviction as a doctrine, then enjoy yourself! Go forth and be happy! Or fashionable! Or whatever. DO NOT indulge in stupid debates over this stuff! It’s NOT worth it!!
When those who have a conviction against what the other end of the spectrum does not have a conviction against go on the warpath and tear down their brothers and sisters in Christ , they are causing strife in the Body of Christ. And then their many (overly) loyal “sheeple” start to take sides and harshly debate, and even fight the other side when we’re all supposed to be Believers!!
Beloved, these things should not be so!!!
Jesus warned severely, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea,” (Matt. 18:6). And He wasn’t playin’!!! And before you go there (if you were planning on going there), this is NOT an occasion for, “there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you.” (I Cor. 11:19). This is just plain, old-fashioned strife, and this is what the Bible has to say about it:
For you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? (I Corinthians 3:3)
But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will. (II Timothy 2:23-26)
By the way, this means we can’t have a ministry of clapbacks!!!! Y’all know the ones I'm talking about!! And I’m not ashamed to say pray for me too because in the words of one acquaintance of mine, “Last word spirit on [me] is strong!” LOL #FixItJesus But seriously. The pulpit was never made for pettiness. It was made for holiness and maturity. Heaven help us!
SOMEONE has to bring some order to this chaos and confusion!!
Yes, there are situations and circumstances we will never agree on. Yes, there are some ministers, churches, denominations, and fellowships that espouse unbiblical and ungodly beliefs. Yes, there are ministers who sin and teach others to sin. We already have more than enough understandable, dare I say biblical, reasons for disagreement in the Church. We don’t need anymore! God is calling us higher, and as the time is drawing nigh, He is seeking a unified Church to call His Bride.
When are we going to mature and stop having these senseless, silly, stupid squabbles? What we’re displaying here is plain old religion and pride (self-righteousness) . I don’t care what end of the spectrum you fall on. RELIGION and PRIDE. The time to mature is well past gone. And guess what? The world is watching us. And they - especially my millennial generation - don’t want what they see. They want authenticity, not foolery; power, not politics. They don’t care what you look like, as long as you’re coming with the truth and you live it too. And this kinda strife makes us a LAUGHING STOCK to them. We must do better. I implore us to do better.
P.S. I make it a habit of NOT name-dropping and NOT calling people out because I'm not one of those people who utilize those cheap tactics to try and boost my site traffic! If you know who this post is addressing, great! If you don't, great! This is a timeless message regardless of how it came to be. I hope it's a blessing to some and an education to others. God Bless!