Connecting the Dots
Over the last few weeks we have been thinking about our identity in Christ. Because we are in Christ we are no longer living according to the written laws of God. Instead, we are guided internally by the Spirit of God, which guided those who first wrote down the scriptures. So we follow the spirit if not the letter of the law. This is more difficult, and requires more of us – it is harder, not easier, to live out this kind of righteousness. It requires that we seek continual fellowship with God in Christ – only then can the Spirit guide us. It also requires a community of likeminded people who are walking the same path and will agree to mutual accountability.
We then explored the way that Jesus calls us IN our identity, and respects who we are individually and culturally. When we call others to follow him, or come together with those who already are, we must do likewise. That means recognizing and respecting the background and experiences of each person – as a whole person. Christ will transform them. We don’t need to change them. We are created for wholeness. Our Identity can become our opportunity, but only if along the way we don’t try to remake other people in our image.
Compassion for others informs and energizes our ministry. We “treat others as we want to be treated.” We realize that we already “suffer with” (the meaning of “com-passion”) as co-humans. Life is difficult. There is plenty of pain and sorrow to go around without imposing more. Jesus said, “I came that you may have life, and that life abundant.” (John 10:10) If we, who are of one culture and heritage, are to reach, call and nurture people from another culture, then we must honor both our identity and theirs. Paul describes his attempts to do this: “I become all things to all people, so that I might by all means save some.” (1 Cor 9:22) That is precisely where he is leading us in this discussion about food, and having compassion for the uniqueness and weaknesses of others.
** NOTE: Reflections for a sermon – “Our Freedom is limited by Compassion” based on 1 Corinthians 8.