Last week, I posted something I came across related to the difference between self-denial and self-sacrifice. This week we’ll continue to explore themes related to Lent. Although as a church we are not officially celebrating Lent (the 40 days prior to Easter in which liturgical Christians traditionally deny themselves something in an effort to prepare their hearts for Easter), we can still be concerned with issues of self-sacrifice, because that is what Christ modeled for us.
The problem, as last week’s post hinted at, is that “self-denial” often becomes its own idol. Those who can practice self control in a certain area are somehow more holy than others. The reality, of course, is that each of us has equal need for Christ’s righteousness to be imputed to us.
Such rules and regulations–do this, eat this, don’t do that and don’t eat that–really only serve to highlight in us our own sinful attitudes. As Paul says in Galatians 3:24, the purpose of the Law is to show us our need for Christ and his righteousness. Paul goes on in Galatians to state: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.”
History provides us with a fascinating case study that gets to these ideas of the freedom we have in Christ. Exactly 500 years ago, during Lent, an event occurred that became known as “The Affair of the Sausages” Ulrich Zwingli, a pastor in Geneva, Switzerland, was at the home of Christoph Froschauer, a printer who was working on a new edition of the epistles of Paul. Froschauer decided to serve sausages to his weary and hungry workers. This was a direct violation of church law, since meat was not to be eaten during Lent. Froschauer was arrested for the violation, and Zwingli went on to preach a message about freedom in Christ. This event provided a catalyst for the Reformation to really take off in Switzerland, as everyone in town began to think about the role of tradition, forced fasting, and freedom.
So: How would you respond? Were they right to eat and serve meat?
Can you think of some modern examples of this same issue? What traditions do you see people holding to that might be standing in the way of their freedom in Christ?
On the flip side, what about the “weaker brother” principle (see 1 Corinthians 8:9-13) Does this passage change your answer?