Saturday, November 11, 2006

Stumbling

My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ,

I haven't been blogging here because I've not been experiencing the joy and peace of the Lord, at least not as much and constantly as I'd like.

I think I've just pulled myself out of a rather bad state. In the previous week or two I found myself unwillingly returned to my previous life, filled with doubt and depression. But before I go on, I believe two things that helped me out were 1) choosing to praise God even when I didn't feel like it. Second was the perseverance to just keep going at it, praise praise praise praise. Praising in advance greatly pleases the Lord because it displays great faith in Him handling your life, and the Lord will reward you with things to really praise about.

So thank God if I'm really out of this nonsense, but perhaps the devil is giving me a break, a fake sense of peace, to fool me into invigilance. Do pray for me. And pray for me to pray for myself. I always forget to do that.

Ok enough about me. Today's topic isn't much of a revelation, I don't think so, but just something that spoke to me while I was (finally) spending time in the Word and something that I just feel we could all use a reminder of - causing fellow Christians to stumble.

In 1Cor 8:11 NLT, Paul warns that 'because of your superior knowledge, a weak Christian, for whom Christ died, will be destroyed.' Very strong word, destroyed. v12 goes on to say we are 'sinning against Christ when you sin against other Christians by encouraging them to do something they believe is wrong'. Now see, it's not what you believe in, it's what they believe in. This is discussed back in Romans 14:22 - '... If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning.' In other words, going against one's conscience.

Just so you know, by main Bible is an NLT, so unless stated, all verses will be NLT. I say this now but my compassion for irregular readers will force me to put NLT again, in the future.

As much as I wish I could assume that readers of this blog will be mature enough, both worldly and spiritually, not to say 'I believe adultery is fine, so I'll do it then.', I'd rather not leave anything to chance. Rather, the Lord kindly corrected my assumptious thinking. These issues that seem to be causing confusion are that of changes in the transit from old to new covenant. Many truths we take for granted today (say grace and gobble) were radical back in Paul's days, and took time to be accepted, especially in light of the strict Jewish customs. There are some things expressly forbidden by God, however, and unfortunately for you my smart-alec friend, adultery is one of them.

I have, I think, I great modern example of this. I actually scheduled a blog post about my personal views on metal music, how I feel it is ok and not detrimental for Christians to listen to it as long as blahblahblahblah. Now this is also precisely the reason why I still have yet to publish the post. I still can't be absolutely sure that God is ok with metal music as long as he who listens knows where to draw the line(s). It's just that even as I listen to this form of music I still find myself getting closer to the Lord, so I thought there probably is something going on here that many aren't quite catching. Through writing that post, by experiencing difficulties in explaining it myself, I have come to realise that it is in fact a tricky issue to navigate. Certain truths I know I hold deep in my heart to guard me against the numerous bad effects of metal music, yet I have trouble articulating them. And even before I had read in 1Cor about stumbling a brother or sister, I knew that I absolutely could not publish an article that I was not satisfied with myself. Not even with people of the world, and definitely not with Christians. Because what they would see is basically 'It is ok to listen to metal because...' and then some half-past-six excuse of a reason. I don't want people to listen to metal because I, a Christian, say it's ok. Honestly you know, I study Persuasion now. If I actually bothered to I probably could assault you with so many hidden fallacies that you wouldn't even know that anything hit you. But what would result from that?

'Why do you listen to metal?'
'Renhao is a Christian. Renhao says it's ok. I am a Christian. I guess it's ok.'

Then you are doing something that you don't believe is right yourself. You are doing something I believe is right. I don't really wish to be responsible for that. Now listen, you may have the urge to want to try metal music, and yet you feel in your heart your inner self saying 'No no no no.' For goodness' sake listen to it. Stay far away from metal music. And don't come back until you are sure that you are sure it's ok. No, it's not a typo error. Same for anything else. Listen to your heart. If when you think about it your heart knots up, dismiss it. Because that indicates that your conscience does not accept it as kosher, so to speak. And if just because someone else say it's ok, you go against your conscience to engage in it, you are not honoring God. Your conscience is your guide to honoring God by doing what you know is right, and consequently going against that is simply dishonoring God.

Long-winded, ok. Paul says weak Christians, what we'd call baby Christians today. But I think you don't have to be a baby Christian to be missing out on certain liberating truths. Hey, we are in the age of re-discovering the Gospel. We are all king-priests, we can receive new truths, profound or otherwise, but nonetheless powerful I believe. God reveals such things to you so you can share it with others. But people are used to such-and-such, they've heard that message all their lives. And now you come along and tell them the exact opposite, and you expect them to believe?

Example: Paul felt liberated to eat anything he wished to eat as long as he thanked the Lord for the food. If another new Christian had seen that (because Paul in reality would never have eaten un-kosher food if there was a chance of a nonbeliever in say-grace-and-gobble being around), and went 'OMG PAUL THAT'S PORK STOP STOP!' Do you think if Paul, licking his fingers, turned and smiled and said, 'We are Christians now. It's ok.' Do you think the previously nonbelieving Christian would sit and eat with him? He'd probably get firewood to clobber Paul on the head to bring him back to his senses. And that was why Paul chose to refrain from eating as he pleased in the presence of baby Christians, and let them get the revelation themselves. Then they can all eat bak kwa together.

Whee.

I think what is sadder than sinning as a Christian is sinning unconsciously as a Christian. I won't pretend that such a truth as keeping in mind not to stumble weaker Christians (I don't really like the word 'weaker', honestly) is easy to remember all the time. And really, until you learn to grasp the whole truth, how can you be fairly blamed for stumbling your fellow Christian? Yet it comes with the high price of sinning against Christ himself, something not all that easy to do given our 'clean-slate' status in Christ's righteousness.

Let us therefore keep an extra eye open. Be conscious of our actions. Consider your company - as a representative of the God you have entrusted your faith to, what should you refrain from doing in the presence of unbelievers? But even they are not as important as brothers and sisters in Christ. For unbelievers until they are saved are condemned to suffer the terrible fate of Hell. But Christians who go against what they believe to be right are committing a great sin that may well destroy them! And you, you will take the heat for having led them astray from their personal path of rightness with God.

And now, all that is left is for me to pray earnestly, that in time I will come to practise what I have preached. God bless.

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