You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. And even though “I am allowed to do anything,” I must not become a slave to anything. 1 Cor 6:12-13 (NLT)
Don’t you just wish sometimes that we Christians had a list of things that we can or cannot do; words that we can or cannot say; beverages that we can or cannot drink and foods that we can or cannot eat. In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, he tells them that “everything is permissible.” That is actually a good thing.
In Acts 10, we read about Peter being commanded by God to kill and eat the meat of animals considered by the Jewish religion as unclean. The Jewish religion was quite clear about what food were clean, which were unclean. If you eat unclean food, you also become unclean. But Jesus came to save us from the law of sin and death.From a religion that has a long list of prohibited food and drinks, St. Paul said that “everything is permissible.” It means that you can eat and you can drink in the company of family and friends.
But is this a license for us to “eat, drink and be merry” to our hearts’ content?Let’s read St. Paul’s further admonition: “everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial (NIV).” I am allowed to do anything but not everything is good for me. Paul also offers clear guidelines concerning the food we eat and the beverages we drink:
“But you must be careful so that your freedom does not cause others with a weaker conscience to stumble. For if others see you—with your “superior knowledge”—eating in the temple of an idol, won’t they be encouraged to violate their conscience by eating food that has been offered to an idol? So because of your superior knowledge, a weak believer for whom Christ died will be destroyed. And when you sin against other believers by encouraging them to do something they believe is wrong, you are sinning against Christ. So if what I eat causes another believer to sin, I will never eat meat again as long as I live—for I don’t want to cause another believer to stumble.” (1 Cor 8:9-13)
We have considerable freedom in what we can eat and what we can drink. But that does not mean that we can do just about everything. A Christian’s consideration is not only about himself and what he enjoys. He or she also considers the situation of other believers and how they might be affected by anything he or she does.
There are a number of shades of grey in the Bible. If the Scriptures stipulated everything that we should or should not do, we might rebel against such strictness. But we can be rest assured that Christ has given us the Holy Spirit, who helps us discern the will of God for ourselves and for others.
If all we have are a list of rules, guidelines and a kind of “faith police” to implement such rules, then we will be following Christ out of a sheer sense of duty and fear of punishment and reprisal. But God promised to write the laws in our hearts. With the Holy Spirit, Jesus enables us to enjoy the light.
Even in the midst of the shades of grey of our faith and our lives, the light of Jesus’ shines through. Haven’t you noticed, the sunrise and the sunset can be breathtaking as they show the shades of grey and the interaction of light and darkness. Even in the sunrise, in the sunset and late at night, the sun shines on us. Shades of grey even make the presence of light brighter and sharper.
Meditate on the following questions.
What are areas of your life that you feel are in the shades of grey? Drinking? Eating? Sexuality?How do you deal with shades of grey and unclear provisions in the Bible?