Floating along with the current of culture, the church fell asleep in its complacency and compromise as the stream changed direction. Christians began to accept the world’s restrictions on our freedoms to worship and proclaim the gospel, and instead of awakening, we withdrew into the walls of our buildings.
I. 1 Corinthians 10:23-33. God, of course, puts limits on our freedoms. We must not sin. Rather, in obedience to His commands, we must choose to be helpful, build others up, seek the good of others and not ourselves, and glorify God in all that we say or do. Our humanistic culture we live in, though, seeks to externally regulate us and persecutes us if we do not submit to its dictates. Now, as Christians, we know we should submit to our governing authorities (Romans 13:1), but Jesus said we should not give to the culture what is God’s (Matthew 22:21). Our primary allegiance is not, then, to the current that has changed directions, but to where we are citizens (Philippians 3:20).
II. Romans 12:1-2. Sadly, many live lives conformed to the world rather than transformed by the gospel. Asleep while the current of culture sweeps them to their destruction (Matthew 7:13-14), they have accepted the walls the world has erected for us: the gospel is too outdated or can’t compete or is hate speech. Or perhaps the restrictions are personal: I’m too old or out-of-touch or have circumstances to overcome. When we use our freedoms for ourselves, we retreat within those walls by dwelling on the past, complaining, or just playing church. We know that all things are possible with God (Mark 10:27) and declare that if the church is not doing more, then it must be God’s will. But, God wants us using our freedoms for Him (John 14:12-14), and then He will do more than we can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20-21).
III. Galatians 5:13-15. When we, through love, choose to use our freedom in Christ to serve others instead, we turn our focus outward rather than inward where we will destroy one another. The very nature of the church is to step outside of the walls where we have been driven by the culture to serve instead in deed and truth (1 John 3:16-18). Using Jesus as our example, we choose to serve in whatever station in life that God has placed us (Titus 2:1-8) and reaching outside the walls of the world and waging war against it with very different weapons (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).
You may be using your freedom in Christ to fight, but what or whom are you fighting? Where is your focus? Inward for self or outward to serve?