Romans 14:21-23 It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall. So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves. But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.
Read: Job 26:1-4 and Job 27: 1-6 Job talks about maintaining integrity before God, and God helping him to have wisdom.
Don’t make your actions cause someone else to fall as a Christian, no matter how you feel about something. Be careful of what you say is okay to have in your life or do in your life. In other words be discriminating about what movies you watch and what books you read and what activities you engage in. Remember that once you are exposed to something, it is in your memory, and is hard to get rid of.
For example: When I was a child I read any book that was on the shelf. That was my Dad’s rule, if it was on the shelf we could read it. As a parent he didn’t want to limit us, but there wasn’t any discrimination on what books were available to us. I read a lot of novels about the Vietnam War which were very realistic in the descriptions of sick horrible torture, also books that had graphic sexual scenes in them. Neither of those subjects were appropriate for children, but they were on the shelf. My Dad had been in Vietnam during the War as a civilian working for a government contractor.
The thing about those books is that I have never, ever, been able to forget the mental images that they put into my head, or the information that they gave me. Even though I have been a parent for a long time now myself. I tried to tell my children about this problem when they learned to read…be careful what you read and what you watch because you cannot erase it from your brain. For a long time I had the rule that until I read or saw it they couldn’t. Many people would disagree with this, but that is my reasoning, to protect until they were old enough to really be able to decide for themselves. This is not a criticism of my Dad. I really enjoyed that freedom as a child, and I was very aware of things in the world. It is just an example of how undesirable things can stay with you.
If you are a Christian, then you can be guaranteed that someone is watching your behavior and judging whether you are “really” a Christian. They may have preconceived ideas about what Christians do and don’t do in their lives, just as we all know that Old Testament Jews “didn’t eat pork”. Some of the ideas people have are correct, but other ideas may be an incorrect assumption on their part. Or it could be that you have never given it much thought in relation to your Christian walk.
I once had a friend who was raised as an Atheist. She was much older than myself. She was really a wonderful person, and as we lived too far apart to see each other all the time we had many long phone conversations. She was a “tree hugger””pet lover””bleeding heart” type (if you can ever put a person into a stereotype), but it gives you an idea of her thinking processes. She questioned me once (after the loss of one of her pets) on why dogs and cats had such short lives. To that one I answered, that I thought it was God’s wisdom, because there were so many born at one time, and so that we could give more of them homes during our lifetimes. She knew that my husband would go hunting occasionally, and that I enjoyed watching action flicks. These things didn’t sit well with her, and she would question me about them and how I could be in a relationship with God and how these things would fit into that relationship.
I told her that I didn’t have a problem with hunting as long as it was being actually consumed, but don’t believe in trophy hunting. Also that deer are over populated because mankind have removed the animals that have them under control. So if they are not thinned out population wise, then they will starve and that is an slow and awful death. As for the action flicks, I do still enjoy them to a certain extent, but tend to pick less bloody ones than I used to. I explained to her that my view on them was that it was the good guys conquering the bad guys, or good conquering evil…that was and still is the reason that I enjoy them. There are so many bad things in the world that once in a while it is nice to see the good guys win a round. I think that my answers must have been satisfactory to her, even if she disagreed with me…when she passed away there was an open Bible on the chair side table in her home with her name engraved on it. She never in all our conversations said that she ever read the Bible…so it was surprising. She did regularly question me (sometimes felt like I was being grilled, really) about my beliefs. I just did my best to give her the answer that I myself found (at least somewhat) satisfactory. Sometimes there is nothing wrong with an activity, and other times there is and we haven’t evaluated it from the perspective of another person watching us and thinking, “How can they do that…if they say that they are a Christian?…..”
If at any time you cannot answer a person about why you are okay with doing what you are doing, then you should really evaluate if it is okay to do that in regards to your Christian walk.
I feel very blessed that God gave me the opportunity to know her and that he gave me the chance to interact with her about my faith and to also face myself because of having to answer the difficult questions she threw at me. We don’t always get that chance with people. Many times what they think of our Christianity is kept inside their minds, which is a shame. There is nothing like hard questions from someone to spark a bit of self-evaluation, and self-evaluation can lead to a growth in your closeness to God. So don’t get defensive when someone asks you….”How can you do that if you are a Christian?” If it turns out that you are wrong in doing whatever they are questioning, then admit it to them. Christians are not perfect and we have no need to pretend that we are…we are simply aware of our sins, and sorry to God for them, and forgiven. If we act like we can never do wrong, then we are actually leading people away from God. Faith is a journey, and there are mistakes along the way, that is part of the journey. However, we don’t want to lead others into making mistakes that cause them to fall into sin.