Key verse: 1 Corinthians 8:2
Big idea: Knowledge is just information until it comes into the shadow of the cross.
One Christian sits in the temple of an idol, eating a feast of cheap meat that had been used in the sacrifice. Another, who had long participated in the same feasts as a believer, is outraged that the first is engaging in such sin - and tempted to join him. When the second confronts the first, he replies, "It is just a hunk of wood. The idol is not real, so meat sacrificed to someone's fantasy is unchanged. I thank the true God for it!" Who is in the right?
Neither, Paul says. The brother who exercises liberty is right theologically, an idol is not anything, but is wrong on a much deeper level. Because he is more concerned with winning an argument than winning his brother, he chooses correctness over love. His eating is not a sin for its own sake (meat is meat) but becomes a sin because of his arrogant attitude. Knowledge puffs us up because we think we are someone special, but love builds another up. Until we know the truth in the context of love, we know nothing. That is what makes our key verse one of my favorites in the whole Bible: if we think we know anything, our own unloving arrogance proves we have not learned the first thing about being a Christian yet.
Imagine a ten-year-old with a mind like a steel trap. She memorizes everything there is to know about brain surgery and can recite every fact you could come up with. Will you let her put you under the knife? Of course not. Knowledge is not really knowledge until you can put it into practice. As Christians, some of us are morbidly obese. We take in lots of knowledge, but because we never put it into practice in the context of love, it never serves any use, and just makes us slow and insensitive.
Can a truly cross-shaped faith ever tolerate that kind of insanity? If we know that Jesus was perfectly right, perfectly honored and in perfect joy, but still chose to come and love, can we stop short of that? Is it okay for me to eat meat sacrificed to an idol? Yes! Is my brother's heart, bought with the blood of Christ, worth more than a grocery store full of meat? Undoubtedly. We do not know anything until we know with Jesus' love.
Discussion idea: What is a specific decision in your life where "What can I do?" is the wrong question, and you should be asking "What does love require of me?"
Prayer focus: Pray that God would give us hearts that put others first, and eyes to see how.