Saturday, August 25, 2007

Christian Freedom

I don't know whether the artist who created the picture of Jesus with a cigarette was a Christian or not, and presumably (if the story is correct) the currently-unemployed workers at the Malaysian paper Makkal Osai do not know whether the artist who created the picture of Jesus with a cigarette was a Christian or not.

I maintain, however, that if I want to create a picture of Jesus with a cigarette, I have the freedom to do so.

Well, perhaps not the political freedom to do so, if I happen to have angered the Malaysian Indian Congress.

But I believe that I have the spiritual freedom to do so, as long as I remember this admonition from Paul:

1 Corinthians 8:9 (New International Version)
New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak.

When thinking about whether a picture of Jesus with a cigarette is allowed, the following thoughts are helpful to consider:

Religious scruples have a way of undoing what the heart of God wills to do. Personal convictions cannot always be squared with genuine Bible doctrine. Sometimes manmade traditions, personal preferences, and the way things have always been done have a way of dividing people of faith. Scripture gets lost in the quest to settle issues of rightness and wrongness.

True - there are so many times when we create man-made prohibitions that have nothing to do with the Word of God. Remember that Jesus Christ never wore a tie to synagogue, and he probably never wore black dress shoes to synagogue either.

By the way, the quote above was taken from the Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee) Family Ministries web site. However, I'm not sure that they'd necessarily defend to the death my right to picture Jesus as the Marlboro Man.

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