Since Larry and I have had some craziness going on, we’ve decided to feature two friends of ours, Dan Spahn and Jodel Wright, to write some blogs in the meantime.
Written By Dan Spahn
“Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak”
1 Corinthians 8:8
In our lives, there are many choices to make that are not specifically addressed in the Bible– choice of brands for pretty much anything money can buy, for example. Of course, there are principles that govern our decisions- Questions of quantity, price, and stewardship. When we make such decisions, sometimes we seek the Lord’s guidance, which usually happens when you are looking at an expensive commodity (Such as clothing, shoes, etc.). Sometimes we don’t, for example, when buying eggs or cheese. So where does the principle lie that allows us to make any choice without deliberating in prayer? Christian Liberty! This is a wonderful concept, but how do you deal with it when someone else’s christian liberty conflicts with yours? Hopefully the following illustration will illuminate my point:
One particular Sunday, I was late getting to my Sunday School class. I suffer from a sleep disorder, so for me to stay awake for a class, I need to have a drink (a soda!). This Sunday, I had chosen a Monster for my drink of choice, as I also needed the energy boost. At the end of class, one of my classmates came over to me, as I had committed an offense without a biblical precedent– that’s right, my exercise of my Christian liberty had somehow hindered my brother in Christ. He told me he wanted to “challenge” me on my choice of energy drink- apparently, there are some websites that he had visited that indicated the “M” logo is actually the Hebrew letter “6” (Called “vav”) repeated three times… he was “challenging” me to engage in symbology studies on my choice of energy drink, but with the underlying point that it violated his conviction.
So what am I supposed to do with this?
The same as any other decision- check the Bible!. I Corinthians 8:1-8 gives us the guidance we need; to paraphrase, we know that idols are fabrications, so food offered to them has no special stigma on it, so within your conscience, you may freely eat… but if you are in the presence of someone who may have been in that pattern of idol worship, where there is the possibility that you might “defile their conscience,” then keep away!
The principle is that we may be free in Christ, but we should not do certain things in the presence of those who may be adversely impacted by them.
The next thing I did was add the quotes to the word “challenge” (And there I did it again….). Now I have no idea if the people at the Monster bottling plant actually offer their batches of syrup or postpackaged cans to any kind of idol as they leave the plant, but I would guess that they don’t. I’m going to curtail exploration of this piece of the subject, because I could make this single post into an even longer (yes it’s possible) story- we would go from anecdote to novel very quickly! The focus here is on the “challenger” (I wonder why I keep doing that?) and the situation. Cut to the chase: the solution is to find the most expedient path to resolution.
The Biblical definition of “expedient” is the path which brings the most glory to God, which I get from the context in which Paul uses it in various places– I’ll leave it to you to conduct your own word study.
So, I did a web search on the Monster symbology, and found out two things: First, half of the people looking at the triple-vav symbology of the Monster logo think it is a conspiracy designed to somehow taint or indicate the company’s values from which Monster originates. The other half of the people point out that there are a number of stylistic differences that differentiate the needed pattern to create the “M” from how the vav symbol actually is written.
I came to the conclusion that the world’s system belongs to Satan anyway, and if I read much further I would not be able to buy vegetables, meats, or breathe fresh air if forced to deeply examine all of the branding out there. Since I am called to be in the world, I cannot just spend my life researching every symbol of every brand- I have five, going on six, kids and they are much more deserving of my precious time and effort that the Lord has blessed me with.
What I did was to change brands… to Venom. The Killer Taipan flavor is sweeter anyway and it keeps me awake as well as the next product, plus no one at church seems to have a problem with the can’s representation of the serpent-with-fangs logo that represents Venom. (The irony of this is not lost on me!)
Now why did I keep putting references to the “challenge” in quotes? Because perhaps the person raising the challenge didn’t really care about what I do to myself… perhaps my swilling of the Monster beverage somehow harmed the way he “brands” his church- A conviction that doesn’t really exist…. Possible? Of course! Likely? Maybe. So I very well may have enabled my brother in Christ to manipulate me into a change because of his preference, but maybe not a conviction. How do I deal with that angle?
I don’t. If someone claims to have a conviction or wants me to be spiritually sensitive to the effects of one of my actions, it keeps me right before the Lord to honor that. Manipulation angers God, and if he was not genuine with me on that, it is between him and God. As far as I know, I did right by him, and I’ll be the first to admit that I prefer the Venom drink over the Monster (It’s just harder to find).
I will say, however, I have seen cases where I was “challenged” in other areas… and I could not make the change for whatever reason- however, in those cases, it was typically a one-off, where the issue was minor at best, and I was not remotely likely to see that person in that context again any time soon- Because of this, my conscience is clear on those situations, as I would not be putting anyone in that position while I freely exercised my Christian liberties.
I will conclude with this point: Even when in the presence of the Judaizers (cf. Galatians) make sure that breaking customs, policies, and/or expectations does not hinder your testimony or their biblically-based walk with Christ.
Dan Spahn. ’98.6 Too Cold’ Guest Blogger