“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.” If we take this literally, it is a frightening sentence. If everything in the world belongs to God, then he is in everything, good and bad, sacred and profane. Sometimes as Christians we are tempted to withdraw from the world, to keep ourselves apart from what we fear will be its corrupting influences. But what if God is at work in those places we want to avoid? What if our presence could make the presence of God explicit in those places? What if, by avoiding them, we are neglecting the work of the Kingdom? To be: “in the world, but not of the world,” nevertheless presumes that we are in the world. What if we were to get to know our neighbourhood, socialise with our neighbours, celebrate with them? What if we were to become part of what goes on in our neighbourhood? Perhaps by doing this we would become the leaven which would transform. Perhaps we would be the light shining in the darkness, rather than hidden under a bushel. Perhaps we would be the salt which adds good flavour.
We know that you go before us into the world.
Wherever we go, you have already been.
We know that you go into the joyful places.
Where there is love, you are there.
Where there is celebration, you are there.
Where there is joy, achievement, accomplishment, you are there!
But we know too that you are not afraid
to enter the dark places
the sad places
the lonely places
the hurting places
even the places where your name is not honoured
and your law of love is ignored or abused or even desecrated.
You are there;
help us to be there too.
23 ‘All things are lawful’, but not all things are beneficial. ‘All things are lawful’, but not all things build up. 24 Do not seek your own advantage, but that of others. 25 Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience, 26 for ‘the earth and its fullness are the Lord’s.’ 27 If an unbeliever invites you to a meal and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. 28 But if someone says to you, ‘This has been offered in sacrifice’, then do not eat it, out of consideration for the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience— 29 I mean the other’s conscience, not your own. For why should my liberty be subject to the judgement of someone else’s conscience? 30 If I partake with thankfulness, why should I be denounced because of that for which I give thanks?
31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God. 32 Give no offence to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, 33 just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, so that they may be saved.