I sat on my porch drinking Kenyan “shai” while pondering life and what I was reading. Well, more specifically, pondering the freedom I’ve found in Christ and how cultures and travels have effected that. It’s a topic that’s been coming to mind the past several weeks based on questions I’ve been asked or conversations I’ve had about dancing, drinking, and other sometimes culturally “taboo” customs.
Growing up, I had the opportunity to be exposed to and start to follow in the dangerous path of legalism. It became easy for me to follow rules and not question; to judge others’ actions according to my rules and not by Scripture…or what I thought Scripture said.
It has taken years to pull out that dangerous weed of legalism, and I still find it hiding in the shadows. Isaiah 28:9-13 speaks to how legalism is not God’s way and is actually a trap to fall backwards and be injured by. So true! How many times have I seen it injure relationships because of how I pre-judge someone? How many times has it kept me from talking with someone, listening and being light and sharing hope?
As I’ve traveled around the world and seen Christ’s Church, I have been exposed to what heaven will be like. And in those travels, I’ve also learned more about freedom and truly following the Savior no matter the cost. I’ve also learned what Paul says in Romans 14 to not be the rock in the way that someone stumbles over but become like the people so that there is unity for mutual edification.
Does that mean I become a hypocrite because I hide who I truly am? No, it means I willingly deny myself freedoms in order to be a witness; to show that there is both freedom in Christ yet grace for those still growing and learning. Some people have rules because culture dictates, others because of their family or personal history. That is their decision.
So, I honor their decisions and don’t flaunt my own, respecting theirs and adapting to help them on their own journey. When asked, I share the freedom Christ has given me in my own decisions although weighing how much I share depending on where they are in their beliefs.
I have found wholeness from other cultural influences, to not just have an American view of Christianity but a broader scope of what Scripture teaches; to understand deeper what it means to deny myself – all for His Glory!