CSC # 27 Discernment

Christians are advised to be in, not of the world
A most challenging proposition when it comes to popular culture,

It requires discernment.

To discern means to see something that is not very clear or obvious.

The Apostle Paul used a concrete cultural example when he answered Corinthian Christian’s questions about whether or not they should eat meat that had been offered to idols and was then sold in the meat market.

He gave them five guidelines that I find useful in making
Discerning decisions in my relationship with popular culture¢â‚¬¦

They can be summarized as follows:

1) All things are lawful
2) All things are not beneficial
3) Do not be dominated by anything
4) Do not cause another to fall.
5) Whatever you do, do it for the glory of God

First–All things are lawful. “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.” Paul establishes each individual’s personal responsibility for making these decisions. We are not bound by some legalistic set of rules but are responsible before God for making prudent decisions. Paul eminds us that everything on earth is the Lord’s, including meat offered to idols.

Second, All things are not beneficial. “Not all things build up.”
Having concluded that we are free to make our own decisions,
Paul reminds us that not everything is equally good for us.
Paul constantly pushes believers to ask what is the highest and best behavior, not just what we are allowed to do.

Third, Do not be dominated by anything. “I will not be enslaved by anything.” Paul recognizes that regardless of how we choose to exercise our liberty, under no circumstances should we allow any behavior or practice to control us. Popular culture is addictive–a favorite TV show, a computer game¢â‚¬¦an iPod playing continuously.
The discerning person will not allow anything to dominate or control them¢â‚¬¦

Fourth. Do not cause another to fall. “Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall.”

Though we are free to make personal & individual choices,
we should not use our freedom in a way that causes other people to lose their faith. In legalistic circles, Paul’s command to “not cause your brother to stumble” is sometimes used as a way to control and restrict other people’s behavior. This is an abuse of what Paul teaches–Paul makes it clear that even in this matter, we exercise individual freedom and personal discretion.

“As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another?

Finally– Whatever you do, do it for the glory of God.
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” Our ultimate calling to glorify God in everything we do.

CS Christians show discernment in our media consumption¢â‚¬¦

Applying Paul’s guidelines to our relationship with popular culture
starts with acknowledging our liberty and then asking if
our specific questions about our choices:

(1) Is it helpful?
(2) Does it bring us under its power or have a controlling influence in our life?
(3) Does it pose a serious risk to the faith of other believers?
(4) Does it glorify God?

Posted in Staublog, Thoughts in March 14, 2007 by | No Comments »

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