"What is the chief end of man?" questions the Westminster Shorter Catechism.
The answer is: "Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever."
The thing is, this is not just the chief end of man, as in after we die and go to Heaven, but it is truly the reason for our existence, now. It is something that should be done every day, in everything we do. The passage that Reverend Singleton chose for this sermon was
1 Corinthians 10:23-11:1. It is part of a letter than Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, and this passage is mostly dealing with food. At first glance, it doesn't seem to make much sense to us, as the argument seems to be whether or not Christians should eat food that has been sacrificed to idols. I have personally never been offered sacrificed food, and chances are you haven't, either, so what does this have to do with us? Well, Reverend Singleton taught us that this passage puts forth four guidelines on how to live in our world today:
Seek the good of others.
Eat the food in the marketplace.
Eat with unbelievers.
Do all to the glory of God.
Let's break each of these down. The first guideline is "Seek the good of others." The issue here was that the Christians were saying that they were allowed to do anything they wanted to, as they were not under the Jewish law. Paul's answer in verse 23 was “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. So, if someone is offering you food that was sacrificed to an idol, they are inviting you to worship that idol. If you accept it, you are agreeing that their idol is worthy of your worship. However, as Christians, we believe that only God is worthy of worship, so this would be misleading someone into believing that they are right, when they are actually worshiping a false God who cannot help them. We can do the same thing today by taking part in horoscopes or psychics or other religious ideas that we know are not right, just so that we don't seem strange to our friends. The problem is that this is not helpful to our friends. We need to speak the truth, not allow them to continue in a lie. This is not seeking their good.
The second guideline is "Eat the food in the marketplace." again, this is a little strange to our ears. Where else are we supposed to get our food from? But we have to remember that the Jewish people at the time kept many laws about food. Some still do. These laws meant that they were not able to eat many of the things that were in the marketplace because of the contents or the way they were prepared. Paul's quote in verse 26, "The earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof," was taken from Psalm 24. Paul was making the point that everything we have comes from God. He created the "clean" food as well as the "unclean" food. We should be grateful to him for the food that we eat, not worrying about what someone else thinks of it. Did you know that "food shaming" was a thing? A quick Google search brought up 16,500,000 results. Be grateful for what God has provided for you. Eat food that is good for you, avoid food that can make you sick, and don't worry about what anyone else says. I would say that this premise goes for everything we have; our homes, our cars, our clothes...Praise God for all that he has provided for us!
The third guideline is "Eat with unbelievers." This can be difficult, especially if we have a tendency to fall back into bad behaviors, ourselves. No, we can't allow ourselves to be pulled in. However, we are supposed to be telling others about Jesus. We can't do that if we keep ourselves insulated in our own little "Jesus clubs." And I'm not sure that going up to people on the street and spouting out Bible verses is going to help much. People have to see Jesus in you. Our job is to show others who he is. Incidentally, Jesus got into trouble with the "church" of his day for doing just this. He was able to tell people about God because he let himself be known. He ate with people who would never enter the temple. He touched people who were "unclean" and helped them. Because of this, they listened when he taught them about God and about how God wanted them to live. They could see God when they looked at Jesus, and they should be able to see Jesus when they look at us.
The fourth guideline, "Do all to the glory of God" sums up all the rest. Genesis 1:27 says "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." We were created to glorify God! We are to be reflections of Him! The world has forgotten this. God sent his son, Jesus Christ, into this world to re-introduce himself. Jesus said "Whoever has seen me has seen the Father." (John 14:9) During Paul's time, God had become a list of laws. Jesus showed that he was a person. The church is in danger, in this generation, of the same error as the Jews of Paul's generation. God has become a set of doctrines and rules. The world is, again, desperate for a savior. It is up to Christians, as followers of Christ, to once more introduce the Father. And we can only do that by reflecting Jesus Christ the son, just as Jesus reflects God the Father.
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
1 Corinthians 10:31