Apologetics: ə-pŏl'ə-jĕt'ĭks from the Greek απоλоγία Def: The branch of theology that is concerned with defending or proving the truth of Christian doctrines.

On the Sidelines. . . With Camera

Written By Esthermay Bentley-Goossen on 19 October 2008

"Everything is permissible"—but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible"—but not everything is constructive.
~ I Corinthians 10:23

The word “constructive” here is the Greek word “oikedomeo.” It literally means a “house-builder.”

Ever watch a four-year-old “build a house?”

Shepard built one today in a pile of leaves. Really. The boy used some cars from the sandbox -- a weather-beaten Snickers® wrapper -- and a piece of broken plastic from a lawn chair. He really wasn’t building as much as he was playing. But. . . he’s FOUR-Years-Old!

Play is permissible when you’re four.

Play is “permissible” when you’re forty-four too . . . which brings me back to I Corinthians 10:23: It is a verse that is almost impossible to take out of context.

See what verse 24 says. . .

“Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.”

And verse 33 is such an excellent conclusion to the matter:

“. . . even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.”

Here’s something I’ve noticed in churches: Church is an excellent place to observe a vast range of both chronological ages and spiritual maturity – you’ve got children and youth (and some adults) who are content to just have fun and partake in the social interaction that church offers. But you also have those spiritually mature Christians who are contributing to the edification and building-up of the church body.

Those who just come for the social stuff aren’t necessarily detracting, but they definitely aren’t contributing to the Kingdom. The social fun is certainly “permissible,” but it’s not necessarily beneficial or constructive to the ultimate goal of seeing people “saved” (I Corinthians 10:33).

Now. . .don't get me wrong. Fellowship and evangelism are absolutely necessary in the Body of Christ. Of course we need social interaction and fun in the Body of Christ -- and if done in the right spirit, serves the ultimate goal of seeing people saved!

But Paul is speaking to Christians in I Corinthians. The Christian's ultimate goal is to build-up the Body of Christ -- and bring people to Salvation. And, oh! how this is needed in the church today. If you believe for a second that churches are made up entirely of believers -- think again!

We need the social interaction and fun and I love that Scripture makes clear that fun is permissible! It is the spiritually mature and creative church that can use the permissible to reach the ultimate goal of seeing people saved. I want to be part of a church like that!

I don’t think Paul is telling anyone that they cannot have fun. His words are presented so we can ask ourselves if our actions are truly building up the Body of Christ, or if we are just standing on the sidelines watching others do the work while we take in the fun.

. . . Today I stood on the sidelines (with a camera) and watched my husband rake leaves. I watched Shepard build a house out of garbage and enjoy himself in a way that only a carefree four-year-old can. I hate to think of life without the "permissible."

- Esthermay Bentley-Goossen


HisFireFly said...

Great insights. Thank you for sharing.
We need a combination of all things to function well as a body. encouragement, prayer, correction, edification... and fun, yes all these in relationship with each other and with our God. Only the Holy Spirit can create the perfect blend.

Barbara said...

Basic reason for church is to get people saved. Confusing that churches are all about social events anymore. Even Bible studies don't even use Bibles anymore. Great insights. But I love the permissables too! Especially bake sales!

The leaves here are just now turning. Nice picture of family.

Susan said...

I love this post. I'm a minister's wife, too. When church has become a social club, we've missed it entirely! There are so many who are lost and need the love of God. Today, I want to do my part, to be a light to draw others to him. I'm not about the club thing. :) Thank you.

Undercover-Princess said...

Wonderful! I am definitely going to follow your site. I wish I had more time right now to read more and explore more.

Jenn said...

So so true! Beautiful post.

I love what you wrote on my blog about surrender. Gave ma a lot to ponder within my own life...thank you. =)

Blessings, jenn

Kris said...

the churh is also for edifying the saints...

as you said...we need this

this weekend our church hosted out 2nd annual car show. we wanted to get our community to turn into our driveway and see church people having fun and being real, if you will (my husbands brain child)

we hope this will be a seed planted that God can grow. we managed to get in one event fun, social interaction, ministry to our neighbor, and encouragement...

what a great time...i will try to post pics on my blog this week

once again, great post


sara said...

I loved this line...Those who just come for the social stuff aren’t necessarily detracting, but they definitely aren’t contributing to the Kingdom. The social fun is certainly “permissible,” but it’s not necessarily beneficial or constructive to the ultimate goal of seeing people “saved” (I Corinthians 10:33).

Thanks for this post!! I miss playing in the leaves with my kids!

Anonymous said...

Found your blog at Randy Alcorn's site.

I've enjoyed very much reading your many posts. My wife and I serve the Lord in Japan after praying for the Japanese church for years. Now in Japan we offer deeper prayer for the American church. so sad. We find the Japanese Christians true to God's Holy Word. They grasp New Testament truth are on fire for Jesus Christ! It's genuine to see. The American church has truly lost its way with social programs and needs based ministry and the worldly music and like Barbara says "Bible studies don't even use Bibles anymore." It's fake church. Refreshing to see one woman write with wisdom and discernment. Bless you!

Ben T.

Cindy Swanson said...

What a wonderful blog you have, Esthermay! I can't believe I've never visited before...but I'll definitely be back.

Also, the name "Shepard" is so cool!

Debbie said...

You wrote such great insights and I totally agree. Because of who we are in Christ, we have so much to be thankful for.. no matter what life circumstances we are dealing with. That joy will manifest in our lives and bring glory the Father.

There is a time for laughter and a time to be serious. Laughter is contagious though. If more nonbelievers could see that we have joy, I believe more might say "I'll have what she's having".

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