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Devotion: The Church’s Methods

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The Church’s Methods

November 23rd, 2018 | 1 Corinthians 9:19-27

On one memorable Sunday morning, a pig was carried into church sanctuary. Adults laughed and children clapped as the pig was carried to the front—and then kissed by the pastor. No, kissing pigs is not a routine part of any Christian worship services! This particular Sunday followed a week of Vacation Bible School, and the pastor had set an attendance goal and promised to kiss a pig if the children met it.

The New Testament does not prescribe many details of church practice. How long should the service be? What should the ratio of music to preaching be like? It says nothing directly about the technology many churches use today.

Today’s text describes the boundaries that shaped Paul’s methodology. His general guiding principle was to shape the ministry to the culture: “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some” (v. 22). But this principle doesn’t
sanction all elements of the culture in ministry. For example, Paul could personally choose to follow customs of the Mosaic Law, but he could not make Mosaic Law binding for others (v. 20). This would be a doctrinal test. Anything that compromised the gospel was out of bounds.

It’s important to understand that Christian freedom has a context. Although Paul was not under the constraints of Jewish law, he was “under Christ’s law” (v. 21). This provides the church with a moral test. Anything that violates God’s explicit commands and moral principles is out of bounds. Scripture guides the church in evaluating its practices. Cultural adaptation might be acceptable, if it does not compromise the gospel or violate God’s commands. In order to make wise decisions, we must know Scripture’s teaching.

APPLY THE WORD

Today’s church is being tested in this area when it comes to marriage. It should make little difference to the church whether same sex marriage is acceptable to the culture at large or legally recognized by the state. God is the one who sets the standard (Rom. 1:24–27). What is legal may not necessarily be right in God’s eyes.

PRAYER | BHUTAN

Mrs. Ran*, a Bhutanese woman from the southern part of central Bhutan, desperately needs prayer. She is continuously mocked by her husband’s family.

Today in the Word’s Devotion is a production of Moody Global Ministries

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