This week my book group discussed “Chasing Elephants: Wrestling with the Gray Areas of Life” by Brent Crowe. It’s a relatively short, good read, that helps you develop a framework for thinking about the so-called gray areas of life, where scripture does not clearly set out boundaries. I liked Crowe’s framework and it’s something I’ll keep on hand for discussions and decision making. I also really liked the first four chapters of the book where he wrestles with the idea of Christian freedom versus the responsibility of a Christian to recognize that s/he is an Ambassador for Christ, now on a mission as a reconciler, and serving a laborer in the Kingdom of God.
Part 1 – Liberty and responsibility, excellent four chapters on how we should think about Christian freedom and calling, interpretation of 2 Corinthians 5:17-21, Romans 14, 1 Corinthians 10, and Galatians 5.
Part 2 – Asking the right questions, a framework for evaluating the “gray areas” of life where scripture is not entirely clear:
- Is the decision within the moral will of God? (What does the Word say? Study it.)
- Is the decision being made in the attitude of Christ? Rom 15:1-13 (selfless love)
- Is the decision being made under the control of the flesh or the Holy Spirit? Gal 5:13-26
- Will the decision have a positive impact on self? 1 Cor 6:12, 10:23-24
- Will the decision addict or enslave? 1 Cor 6:12
- Is the decision consistent with the rule for Christian living? (service & concern for others)
- Will the decision hurt a fellow believer spiritually or set a spiritual deathtrap? Rom 14:13
- Will the decision have a positive spiritual impact on fellow believers? Rom 14:19, 1 Cor 10:23-24, Gal 6:1-10
- Does the decision go against conscience? Rom 14:14
- Will the decision disrupt fellowship and damage relationships within the community? Rom 14:15
- Will the decision damage reputation? Rom 14:16
- Will the decision remove focus from the big picture of God’s Kingdom? Rom 14:17-19
- Is the decision being made out of a selfish heart? Will the decision offend? Rom 14:20-21, 1 Cor 10:32
- Can the decision be imitated by others who understand their freedom? 1 Cor 10:33-11:1
- Is the decision being made in light of the advancement of the gospel of Jesus Christ? 1 Cor 9:19-24, 10:33
Part 3 – examples of applying the framework questions to these issues: homosexuality, social networking, social drinking, entertainment choices, and humanitarian efforts.