Tuesday, September 19, 2006

All things to all people…or a convenient excuse for questionable living?

St. Paul the Apostle said in his first letter to the Corinthians “I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.” Certainly his zeal for the Lord and His gospel are admirable and righteous. But, is it possible that we as fallen Christians might use this phrase as a battle cry for questionable living or practices?

So many times I have heard people who serve in the church use this quotation to endorse and support wildly differing and often questionable worship practices and lifestyles. If a culture places high value on a certain musical style, then let’s use that style in all of our hymns. If a certain culture “feels” threatened by vestments and clergy shirts, let's wear polos and khakis. If a certain culture is uncomfortable with Jesus’ ethnicity, let's change it, if I certain culture is uncomfortable with Jesus’ gender, why not change that too?

I wonder if maybe the real crux of Paul’s statement here is not a wholesale rejection of all Christian tradition and doctrine, but rather a joyful proclamation that Christ is the answer for all things. If you are weak, He is strong. Where you are sinful, He is righteous. Where you are lacking, He is sufficient. And it is His fullness, His righteousness, His obedience that becomes a part of us through His Word, His Sacraments, His Church. Remember, it was also that blessed Apostle and brother who said “for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.”

It is important, especially as pastors, to test your motives against the whole counsel of God. If you find yourself defensively throwing out the same scripture over and over again to defend your actions, it may be wise to examine your heart and turn in obedience to the will of God.