The Question to Ask

“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. – 1 Corinthians 10:23 This verse is delivered by Paul in the context of discussing the eating of meat that has been sacrificed to idols. The Corinthians wanted to know if this was a problem for the follower of Christ who does not believe in, follow, nor derive wholeness from the idol. For us and our post-christian culture the thought behind this question is still relevant and crucial. It could be phrased like this: Can I participate in trick-or-treating? Is it OK to go to that movie? Can I wear that bikini at the beach? And there are numerous other situations in which the question could be asked. We like black and white answers. A clear right and wrong. But, unfortunately Paul seems to paint with a lot of gray on his brush. The answer is that we have a great amount of liberty in Christ. There is nothing inherently wrong with going to people’s doors and asking for candy. Or wearing a particular bathing suit. Yet, there is a further, deeper consideration. As believers, we are all interconnected. This is the premise that what I do as part of the body can have real – even if unintended – consequences to other parts of the body. We need to live in awareness of this interconnection. Paul reiterates this idea in Romans 14:1 – 12. So, is it OK to eat the meat sacrificed to idols? Well, yes it is. Christ is the fulfillment of the law. Yet the reality is –...

What Comparison Does

Not too long ago, I had the pleasure of getting to know one of my volunteer leaders. She was telling me of the hobby of water color painting that she had taken up in the last couple years. As she talked about her art and how she gave her work to special people as a gift of herself, her face lit up with pure enjoyment. It was special to watch. Within our conversation, I asked her about the learning process. Among the first things she mentioned was the frustration she would feel having completed a project. Her flowers never looked the way they should. Her scenes did not turn out right. It took the repeated, trusted advise of her teacher to come to realize that she saw things, and painted things, differently. And that was OK. Comparison destroys freedom. In art, the freedom comparison destroys is creativity. In the spiritual life, comparison destroys the freedom to become who God intends for you to be. To run the race set before you. One of the ways the Bible refers to comparison is to covet. Coveting usurps our freedom. When we covet, we become slaves to what we do not have. That new car. Free time. A different body. More kids. A spouse. Popularity. A larger church or ministry. Vacation. We miss the work that God is doing in our lives, the path He has us on, because we are too busy comparing ourselves with others. Elsewhere in the Bible comparison is seen as judging. Humorously illustrated by the person who tries to take a sliver of wood out of someone’s eye...

Why Do We Adopt an Identity?

Within us there is the craving for security, control, acceptance and wholeness. It is the remnant of the broken image of God resonating inside of us. Apart from Christ, we attempt to create our own covering for this brokenness. This covering, our identity, what we show the world, is our way to create the wholeness, significance, and acceptance that is our desire. Value is created for us by comparison. Identity is created by answering the questions: What do I do? What do I have? What do people think of me? Now there is a framework to measure ourselves in relation to others. Whether it is the type of car, shape of my body, parenting style, political party, nationality, race, neighborhood, or whatever – identity creates a hierarchy and hence value for my false self. Just like Adam and Eve, we fall prey to the lie that something more than God is necessary for what we crave. Because we must constantly satisfy our identity, it leads to idolatry. Sin. Separation from God. It can’t be helped. You can’t serve two masters. Unfortunately, when we become Christ followers, instead of an identity in Christ –  we adopt an identity of religiosity. Doing the things that look Christian. Works and self-effort. In that case, Christ is used to answer the questions of identity. Yet, Christ makes those questions moot. What do I do? God is not impressed by performance. He doesn’t need us, He loves us. Our righteousness is declared, not earned. You are free to do the works of service He has prepared for you in advance. What do I have? Everything, in Christ. He is the...

Gain Perspective. Live Well.

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