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Be gracious to me. My attempt at a modern-day retelling of 1 Corinthians 10:23 – 11:1. See the actual text here.
Our culture tells us there’s no objective truth and anything goes — but we know not all things are useful or productive. While the prevailing motto of our time is “everything in moderation,” there exist many things which are neither beneficial nor advantageous, no matter how small our portions. None of us should act selfishly. Instead we should desire to do what is best for others.
Eat and drink whatever is served at the concession stand without fear of breaking unwritten rules. All of earth is God’s, as is everything in it. Enjoy your food and drink.
If a non-Christian takes you out to dinner, eat and drink whatever you’d like from the menu, and enjoy yourself in doing so. Don’t interrogate your host as to why he’d treat you to dinner at a restaurant serving pork and beer. But if he asks the waiter to remove the alcohol menu because you’re a Christian, by no means should you ask for it back. Even if you find no problem with the occasional drink, this guy sees it as inconsistent with belonging to God. Of what benefit is it to exercise your freedom if it calls into question the sincerity of your faith? In these situations, give up your freedom for the conscience of another — not that what is sin has changed, or that another’s conscience should reshape your own. But you are surrendering your liberties in order to be positive and encouraging to another.
So, while “anything may go,” make your decisions based on what is actually beneficial and productive. Enjoy your meals, eating to please God and give him glory — and not to appease another. But don’t allow your freedom to enjoy a rack of ribs and a Heineken become an excuse to offend those who see it differently. Again, I myself don’t do that which delights me, but that which is advantageous to those around me — especially what leads to the salvation of others. Imitate me in this, as I’m following Christ in doing as much.
I’m not sure I’ve summarized this text correctly for our day and time. I’d love feedback. The main questions raised for me have to do with my own inattention (or failure to translate) that which would have to do with food sacrificed to other gods (the context of our passage). I can’t think of a way in modern-day America to translate this well — other than to assume drinking alcohol would be doing so to the delight of the devil. I realize that is not an exact translation, and I may have taken too much liberty with the text.
Also, I question the difference between offending others and causing them to “stumble.” I’d like to argue that anytime we can offer our freedom to enjoy something in exchange for another human being’s benefit, we should (regardless of whether it is a stumbling block or “merely” an offense). But are we, at some point, enabling them in a way?
Obviously, Paul’s overarching theme is that we should seek the good of others in order for them to be saved, even if it means giving up some of our freedoms. And his primary examples are unbelievers — though he adds disciples of Christ at the end. I guess another question is: If we’re giving up our freedoms in order for others to be saved, how does that play out when the “others” already are saved?
I’m seeking to understand the text well and, so, welcome critiques given in love and with kindness. I in no way think I’ve got this one all figured out. Your ideas?