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February 1, 2009
Winter 2009 Series: Living as a Jesus Follower - No. 4. “Caring For Others“* Example One
SCRIPTURE   1 Corinthians 8:1–13
Rev. Stephen Filyer
Bothwell & Clachan Baptist Churches  
! Introduction
Food has been in the news lately.
It wasn’t that long ago that a Canadian meat packing company had to order a large recall of its products.
As a result they now have an inspector assigned to that plant.
This past week a different company had a similar fate due to a salmonella outbreak in their peanut butter factory.
Food is big business and it is news, especially when something goes wrong.
This morning’s message is called “Caring For Others” and some of it will involve the topic of food.
But it also involves “lists.”
Yes, l-i-s-t-s “lists.”
To see the connection lets carefully sneak up on it with this statement: I know that many Christian people mean well and want the best for us.
Please remember that positive starting point this morning.
But we need to be careful if we hear some of them tell us that all we really need to do is just “/read/” the Bible.
I’m sure that you know that we also have to /think/ and ask some hard questions.
The leaders at Youth Group continually say, “Do not believe this just because I am telling you.
Look into it, research it.
Discover for yourselves if this is true or not.”
This morning I hope that you will discover that a message entitled “Caring For Others” refers to something much harder than what we might first assume.
*SECTION ONE: The Way of Knowledge (v.
I also have some questions for you.
And they are not multiple choice.
First, “What makes you different?”
And before you go off too far into describing what makes you unique let me ask a follow-up question: “What makes you different as a Christian, a follower of Jesus from your non-church going neighbour or from the kid at the next locker?”
Let me ask a more pointed question: “As we sit within the four walls of this room, what makes us any different from a cult member or even any different from what the Bible calls a pagan “idol worshipper?”
I do not want your answers to begin with a Bible verse.
That might be too easy and could cut off some needed discussion.
*Who Are Our Neighbours?*
Now I am going to go out on a very slender limb and I am going to describe what one of those neighbours might look like here in Bothwell, Ontario, Canada in February of 2009.
Having now lived in Bothwell for ten years I think that I am safe in saying that some of our more typical neighbours might be someone who is into beer and barbeques and living with his girlfriend.
Now before you leap to any conclusions, no, I do not know your neighbours nor have I done any demographic survey to see who might fit into my list that also includes “NASCAR, NFL, trucks, CSI, hockey-loving, Canadian Idol, soap-opera watching, Desperate Housewives” (I threw those last two or three so this wouldn’t be a totally sexist list) … feel free to throw in your own additional descriptions as we fill out the category.
In fact, we may need to add married Point Peelee Pigeon Watchers or widowed Windsor Wine Tasters.
Or even open to a relationship Opera Buffs who also like going on exotic holidays?
As Jesus was asked so many years ago, “Who is my neighbour?”
*Our Mission Field*
I do hope by now that some of you are at least smiling inside.
But don’t these various groups make up a large percentage of our Canadian 21st century ‘Mission field’?
Now this could be a bit of a challenge trying to gather material on food, lists and neighbours and still somehow come up with a gospel message.
But I believe that Jesus wants us to try.
He was never afraid of a challenge.
Last week we read of Jesus’ promise to make us “fishers of men,” or as Eugene Petersen so cleverly paraphrases Jesus’ words found in Mark 1:17: "Come with me.
I'll make a new kind of fisherman out of you.
I'll show you how to catch men and women instead of perch and bass."
*Those “Lists”*
Let’s get back to the earlier mention of lists.
You may be puzzled because there was no mention of any list in our Bible reading from 1 Corinthians 8:1-13.
It only had one thing, and that was a type of food, described as “meat sacrificed to idols.”
This leads to another question, “Have any of you ever seen “idol meat?”
Maybe there was a shot of some during “Eyewitness News?”
Or perhaps you saw some while on a trip to some exotic locale?
So what does the topic of eating “food sacrificed to idols” have to do with above list of possible neighbours and their varied interests?
I think the answer is found in one of those questions that I asked at the very beginning: “As we sit within the four walls of this room, what makes us any different than one of our neighbours or even any different from what the Bible calls, in the 1st century, an “idol worshipper?”
And why even bring up the topic of “*/lists/*?”
Those of us who are immersed in 21st century culture and technology may be tempted to dismiss old 1st century Corinth.
Most of their buildings have all crumbled to dust.
But in that 1st century the plumbers had fashioned a series of lead pipes that would take the blood away from the downtown market in Corinth.
In one of the other ancient cities that Paul had preached they even had running water in the modern public toilets.
Corinth’s streets were paved.
They had fancy murals on their downtown buildings just like we do.
Their ports were visited by ships from around the world.
Unique food and up to date products were available in the markets.
They even had a down town sex trade just like in our modern cities.
But the only difference was that they called theirs a religion.
It went on in those vast tourist traps known as “temples.”
But those temples were not just for sex or tourism.
They were also the biggest buildings in town.
They had additional rooms built on for public and private meetings.
Many functioned as the local public halls.
They had no Bothwell Legion or Baptist Gym.
In Corinth they had extra rooms built on to those many local temples.
Yes, today about all that is left are the stone pillars but they were architectural marvels, the sky scrappers of their day.
People met there regularly.
The local business and service groups met there.
It was where all the power brokers did their latest deals.
It’s where the local banquets were held.[1]
*Ancient Restaurants*
This is where our topic of food comes in to the picture.
Idol temples went through a vast quantity of meat every day.
Not much was used in the actual sacrifice, so the rest of the meat had to be put to some good use.
The worshipper got some to take with him.
But the priests received all the rest as their payment and as a result usually did a very lucrative business.
They sold some down at the local market or out the back door of the temple.
And some was put on the menu in their attached dining rooms.
I can just hear the announcements “Come on down, daily idol services and luncheon specials!”
These were the restaurants of the ancient world.
And Christians went there to.
That’s where you got the best buys.
It was where you went to see your friends.
But there was a problem.
Although there were no labels on the meat, these Christians all knew where it had come from came from, and why it was for sale, and who was making the profit.
*Back to our Future*
Now so far we have talked about two safe subjects, neighbours and food.
But now the pastor is about to step out on dangerous ground and address the subject of “lists.”
But I want you to remember what I said at the very beginning of the message.
Christian people mean well and want the best for us.
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