In Christ, Christians have such a profound freedom that sometimes it is hard to articulate exactly what that means. There are things that Christians are prohibited by Scripture from doing, such as murdering, committing adultery, stealing, etc… But there are many other things that Christians are free to enjoy that are not prohibited by Scripture. However, it’s not always that “cut ‘n dry”. There are things that Scripture does not prohibit that could still be wrong. This is when a Christian must ask him or herself, “I know I CAN do this, but SHOULD I do it?”
All that we do should be done to glorify God. Our lives should be a reflection of the One who has redeemed us. If we have the freedom to __________________________, is it OK to go ahead and do it, regardless of the ramifications? As the world watches, is what you are doing going to cause you to be perceived as a hypocrite? (Hypocrite – someone who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings). And perception really is the issue here.
A friend of mine has a simple scenario that can help. He calls it the Wal-Mart test. If I meet someone in Wal-Mart and have an opportunity to share my testimony, and then that person happens to see me 30 minutes later at a restaurant with a margarita, or bottle of beer in front of me (for example), how does that affect my testimony? Right or wrong, in America (and its different elsewhere), the perception is that a Christian should not drink. If I’ve just been given an opportunity to extol the riches and beauty of the grace of Christ in my life, and then be seen a short time later drinking, does that glorify God? Regardless of my freedom, my testimony has just been reduced to rubbish. And worse, the name of Christ has been trampled. (And just to be clear, this post is not about whether a Christian should drink alcohol. For that, see this article). This can be applied to any freedom that the Christian has in Christ.
Too often, we are careless in our actions. We don’t take into consideration how something will be perceived to a world that is watching to see if Christianity is really different. Places we go, pictures we post to social media, things we do may all fall under the umbrella of Christian freedom, but if it will have a negative impact on Christ, or the church or our testimony, it is better to forego that freedom for the sake of the glory of God. So, try the Wal-Mart test next time you’re faced with this situation. “If I just shared my testimony with someone at Wal-Mart and they saw me doing this, how would my testimony be affected?”