I am a political junkie. I suppose it dates back to my days of being a pre-law, political science major at Northwestern University. I enjoy reading books and daily news about today’s world.
Recently I read the book Micro Trends by Mark Penn (the guy who identified the “soccer-mom” demographic for Bill Clinton). He contends that our world no longer has a “majority” of anything, but that we are composites of many, multiple “micro trends,” each wanting THEIR own tastes satisfied…IN FULL!
(Now, I didn’t need a socio-economic book to tell me THAT…any pastor active in today’s world KNOWS that fact. “Satisfying” the multiple demands of people’s-tastes as you lead a church or ministry will bring you face-to-face with micro trends!)
So let me merge all of this with our strong value on “freedom.” Freedom celebrations will dot the landscape over this 4th of July weekend. Compared with countries around the globe, we enjoy immense freedoms and liberties. Compared to years ago, our freedoms are now shrinking at glacial creep…“and we know it not” (in the words of the prophet).
In today’s world, “freedom” is often associated with “my rights” and “my liberty to do/express however I want” (irregardless of its imposition on others.) It is seen in dress codes, entertainment, food preferences, workplace rules, etc., etc., etc. Most often, it is viewed as the expression of my liberty.
That is precisely what is addressed in the Apostle Paul’s description of “personal freedoms” when he declares that one expression of my personal freedom is to choose NOT to act in a certain way. In Romans 14:15, Paul declares it like this…“If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died.”
Paul is affirming that sometimes freedoms are best seen by what we choose NOT to do, even though one could legitimately “do so.”
In 1 Corinthians 6 (NIV), Paul even affirms that there are those matters which fit in the category of “permissible” or “legal” but are still avoided because of its end result. In verse 12, “Everything is permissible for me”—but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me”—but I will not be mastered by anything.
I wonder how this would all translate out in the action of our lives, if instead of “demanding my rights” and “expressing my freedom,” we chose to refrain, avoid, opt out, or defer…so that others may be blessed, or my life would be more Christ-honoring?
I wonder how all of this would express itself in our churches and ministries, if we chose NOT to pursue MY tastes and desires, but sought HIS purpose (first of all) and OTHERS’ needs and desires…even at the limitation of “my rights?” Would “worship wars” become nonexistent? Would “generational splits” evaporate? Would divisive activity in churches no longer require “resolution?”
Hmmmm…almost sounds like “brotherly love” and “consider one another,” or “the strong caring for the weak,” etc., etc.
How inventive!...Not true. How novel!...Not!