Digging in Deeper: Mark 7:5

“So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, ‘Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders, instead of eating bread with ceremonially unclean hands?'” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Have you ever crossed a taboo? I live in the south now where, “Yes, Ma’am,” and “Yes, Sir,” are a fundamental part of the culture. Not so where I grew up. I grew up greeting most adults with nothing more than their first names. You can perhaps imagine the shock, then, when I met my wonderful in-laws when visiting Lisa in Charleston, SC for the first time and greeted them warmly by name…first name. Much to their credit, they handled my massive faux pas without even blinking, but I had violated a culturally sacred custom. Every culture has its customs. Some are wise and rightly held (like patterns of respect and honor in the south), but some are just there because, well, they’re there. Others are locked in place because of the currently prevailing worldview whether or not that worldview accords with reality. Jesus and His disciples came up against some of these during His ministry. Let’s talk about it.

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Digging in Deeper: Romans 6:17-18

“But thank God that, although you used to be slaves of sin, you obeyed from the heart that pattern of teaching to which you were handed over, and having been set free from sin, you became enslaved to righteousness.”‬‬ (CSB – Read the chapter

Freedom beats at the heart of every person. This has always been the case. Freedom hasn’t always been as widely available in the world as it is today, but the freest people have always been the envy of the rest. In the ancient world, some longed for it but assumed they weren’t made for it. Today, there are occasionally national revolutions to obtain it, even as rulers try and deny it every way they can because they understand that the freer people are, the less power the ruling class has. But our longing is freedom. So, why would anyone want to follow a religion that calls its devotees to be slaves? 

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Digging in Deeper: 1 Corinthians 8:9

“But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.”  (ESV – Read the chapter)

When it came to the issue of eating or not eating meat that had been offered as a sacrifice to an idol, Paul’s position was that because idols were nothing, eating the meat was not in any way morally problematic in and of itself.  In other words, the act was not sinful.

But…for some folks in the church, the idea of eating such meat was really problematic for them and for their conscience.  Some Gentile background folks who had grown up as pagans and who were really into idolatry before following Jesus could not eat the meat without being tempted back into their old life.  Similarly, many of the Jewish background believers couldn’t eat it without feeling like they were sinning against God by participating even indirectly in an act of idolatry.   Read the rest…

Morning Musings: Romans 15:2

“Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.”  (ESV)

The goal here is not to become doormats, but to practice love for one another.  We are not looking to justify every irritating whim and warped conviction of those around us.  Speaking more directly to the call of our culture, this is definitely not talking about tolerating a habit or practice that is clearly sinful on the part of a fellow follower of Christ.  Read the rest…