A while back, I made a comment on one of the posts on this blog, relating how I had changed my position on a certain social issue. After I had done so, I had some second thoughts, not on my position, but on whether I should have mentioned it. I feared I might offend some readers who hold to the position I had abandoned.
Then the other morning I found a comment on my comment. My friend, Canadian Atheist, simply repeated what I had said and remarked, “Bless you Bill.” At first I was elated; I had never to my knowledge, been blessed by an atheist before! But immediately those fears came back. What would those other readers think of that? Not only might I lose readers, I could lose friends.
Almost immediately as I sat down with my New Testament for my morning reading, I came across Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 10:
31. “Whether then you eat or whether you drink or whatever you do, do all things to the glory of God.32. Don’t become a cause of stumbling – to Jews, or Greeks or to the church of God,
33. just as I also please all in all things, not seeking my own benefit, but that of the many, that they may be saved.”
I asked myself, Isn’t that what I’m doing? I had removed a stumbling block from my friend’s way. As far as those others, they can keep holding to their position; if they take offense – well?
Of course, this brought a number of thoughts to mind. Why do we who claim to be followers of Christ do so many things to turn people off? We hold others to moral positions that we ourselves have difficulty with. We argue with little provocation with those with whom we disagree. We hold and defend positions that aren’t really worth defending. We call people names.
Brothers, it ought not to be this way!
The message we believe and proclaim is enough of a tripper-upper; we don’t need to add other things in the way. Paul said it clearly earlier in this same letter:
1:18. “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing …
21. … God was well pleased through the foolishness of the proclaimed message to save those who believe.
23. …but we are proclaiming a crucified Christ, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles.”
(See: JESUSFOR DUMMIES?.)
Paul is not contradicting himself in chapter 10! In chapter 9, verses 19-23, he even says that he became “all things to all.”
If I can restate these apparently paradoxical thoughts: Paul was absolutely unwilling to compromise his message, but he was willing to compromise himself. I’m not saying he compromised his ethics or morals. But he was willing to leave himself behind and enter into the thoughts and needs of others. He was living out the life and love of Christ.
I believed he lived this way because, like the One who was his Savior and Master, he genuinely loved people; and because of this love, he desired to see them come to know this same Savior.
Are we like Paul in this? Or are we more willing to compromise our message rather than ourselves?