Parental Guidance is advised is also shortened as PG. Pictures, videos, books and whatever else is rated as PG when it’s assumed that the same content may be beneficial to some and destructive to others. PG is rated where content can easily be misunderstood by the younger and inexperienced.
There are situations in the proclamation, profession and practice of our faith that we need to rate as PG. Look at this biblical example of faith practice rating at PG.
1 Corinthians 8:4 “So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that an idol is nothing at all in the world and that there is no God but one.”
In the Corinthian world, flesh food was sold after being offered to idols. Just like in some countries, a Muslim cleric must say a prayer before slaughter of animals for public consumption, in order to make the food halal.
Apostle Paul’s argument is that idols are no gods at all, therefore eating food offered to idols first will truly and never affect your life or faith. There are many practices we use a lot of energy to prohibit and preach against that are of no consequence if we truly believe in a powerful God. They do not affect or influence faith.
Certain practices like circumcision or lack of it lost meaning overtime, and what remained is the faith commitment of persons and not physical as above After Israelites left Egypt in their young faith in God, a lot of rules on how to practice faith (what to copy neighbors and what not to copy) were necessary through Mosaic law. But after the cross and maturity, the mosaic law was rendered irrelevant as a means to reach God. Our faith needs to grow to rise above certain sensitivities. That is why Apostle Paul dismisses idols as nothing to a believer.
1 Corinthians 8:7 “But not everyone knows this. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat such food they think of it as having been sacrificed to an idol, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled.”
However, though food offered to idols has no consequence to affect one’s faith, parental Guidance Is Advised. Because while gods are indeed nothing and powerless…some though Christians…still believe that gods have some potency to affect faith. They fear eating meat offered to idols.
Practice of faith at this point and preaching of the same is rated PG for the sake of those who though converted are still ascribing potency to idols.
1 Corinthians 8:9 “Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak.
(8:10) For if anyone with a weak conscience sees you who have this knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, won’t he be emboldened to eat what has been sacrificed to idols?
(8:11) So this weak brother, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge.
(8:12) When you sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ.
(8:13) Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall.”
Because of PG on flesh food offered to idols, I am careful for the sake of those with weak faith. Because of PG I avoid eating meat offered to idols, yet ideally I could eat it without affecting my faith and journey to heaven.
The church standard is designed not to take people to heaven, because we can’t be saved by what we do. The church standard is designed to ease the spread of the gospel and achievement of her God given mission. The church standard therefore is laced with the following all time principles (1) to avoid extremes and (2) to remain distinct. Extremes repel people thus affecting the mission of the church. Distinction is supposed to attract and identify the uniqueness of our faith.
The standard of the church is therefore it’s swag, so to speak. The swag of the church avoids extremes and remains distinct as explained above. That is what Bible characters and church teachings have upheld. But the concern of PG is application of these standard principles. The principles must be applied noting that localities don’t share expectations and cultures, and people’s adoption of teaching is at different paces of faith growth. Hence the need for tolerance and sacrifice for the sake of the one weak in faith.
Practices are based on application of church standards in a locality. Localities vary in expectations but standards or principles remain the same. Application defines the local practice, to ensure the gospel reaches that locality.
In the same vein we need to be keen about practices which mean nothing in one part of the world and mean a lot in another part of the world. Practices which can easily be misunderstood.
A woman wearing a trouser doesn’t make her indecent or a prostitute. But for some remote and backward places in the world, a woman wearing a trouser is outright hell bound. For the sake of such persons, while interacting with them PG is advised.
Hairstyles do not change ones relationship with God. But in some parts of the world any hairstyle is hardly noticed and people mind their business. But in other parts of the world…dreadlocks, plaiting and even shaving is wrongly treated as a big spiritual issue. For their sake, when interacting with them, PG on our hairstyle is advised.
Wearing rasta colours, fist bumping, certain finger salutes, wedding rings or marriage band, speaking street language as opposed to official language, eating meat, celebrating Christmas, Easter, Valentine and even unfortunately the participation of women in main worship. These and many other routine practices have been made deeply religious matters and unofficial test of faith in certain parts of the world.
People will go at great lengths to prove that it is satanic and cite so many sources that are rarely known except to them. History will be dug out, relationship made to prove practices as diabolic. You will hear of Nimrod, Semiramis, illuminati, etc. Conspiracy theories to instill fear will abound. All these in reality is balderdash in relation to our faith in God. But for the sake of their weak immature faith, the Bible advises PG!
We all are Christians of the same denomination, we read the same Bible and from its interpretation we developed approved practices for our respective villages. We concluded that our list of approved and prohibited practices was divine and shouldn’t be challenged. Yet our interpretation was influenced by what was happening around us and what we knew. In another village across the world, they read same Bible, but their challenges and environment was different from ours. Therefore their interpretation and list of approved and prohibited things differed sharply from ours at some point. Now the world is progressively becoming a global village.
We are forced to interact with people who we would never have interacted with. Now we see their dressing and singing and we are shocked that they are of our faith. They look at us and can’t believe that we have a clue of what the Bible teaches. Immediately a competition of who is Biblically sound and who is heretic begins. Each sees compromise on the side of the other. Suddenly there is risk of schism. Key problem? Tolerance. We can’t consider the weak in faith, we can’t tolerate a differing thought. The spirit of Christ is not in us! God created diversity and variety and He loves it so.
We unfortunately prefer uniformity. Church standard ensures that in every varied locality we avoid extremes and remain distinct. As we come together as global village, our various application of standard or principle will pop us. This calls for tolerance. We must seek to understand each other first before judging each other. Christ was tolerant and He came down and adopted with our locality. We need Christ’s tolerance. Let’s pray for the spirit of Christ!
Let me observe that when church boards and preachers have a weak immature faith that sets test of faith on such practices instead of principles … they hardly engage in fruitful evangelism. They focus only within the church to win disciples who will be like them in church. They seek to dictate personal private lives. They spend time condemning people, loving less, and instilling fear. They misquote verses and Religious books to show that unless their practice standards are followed, the church is fallen. They forget Christ is the Head of the Church! They have no straight and simple explanation to anything, it’s always long passage and complicated. Such situations make the church inhabitable, in contradiction to the wish of Christ the head of the Church.
1 Corinthians 8:1 “Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that we all possess knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.” Knowledge without love brings arrogance and self righteousness. We have too much knowledge and the result is intolerance to the weak brother, or misunderstanding of the one with stronger faith, so to speak.
The burden of this passage and even this article, is the need of PG in application of standards and principles. Apostle Paul began by emphasizing need for love more than mere knowledge. We love to win. Love wins more. We will find a common ground as a world church, or we will understand the differences, if we love each other and not, if we just have knowledge. Let us love those who differ from us. Don’t try to win them first, don’t get offended by them…love first! Hence the need of PG.
Those of you of stronger and mature faith should be sensitive and have PG when exercising your freedom in Christ. Be careful when your platform will expose you to audiences who may still be sensitive to your practice. Radio, TV, Online, etc. For the sake of their faith, go slow and be as accommodative as possible!
To those who are still weak and are still sensitive to idols, and other inconsequential things mentioned above, we pray that we grow up. So that as Boards and preachers we give universal principles and not prescriptive sermons that shortly get outdated as the times change.
May God help us to be sensitive and apply PG to the weak. May God help the weak to grow up. Meanwhile may we tolerate each other in Jesus name. Amen!
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