As followers of Jesus, we are free from the Old Testament laws, or so Paul says. But this leads us to a conundrum: what guides our behavior and beliefs if we no longer have the OT Law?
Paul says our freedom as Christ followers is not for our sake but for that of others. Our freedom does not mean we are free to run out and indulge our every carnal lust as the Corinthians did. Instead, we are free from the punishment of the OT Law as we go about our work of winning everyone to Christ. If winning a non-Christian to Christ means having a beer with them, we do so because we are free to drink. However, this does not mean we are free to go get drunk on Friday night at the local bar. If winning a non-Christian to Christ means we see a godless movie or play with them then we do so because we are free. But this does not mean that our free time should be spent reveling in godless entertainment.
The difference, Paul says here, is in the purpose and motive of the behavior more than the behavior itself. We are not free to indulge ourselves because that is not Christ-like. But our work of evangelism may take us to some seedy places and build relationships with some seedy people. And we are to build them because God loves them, too. Do we think Jesus met with prostitutes and sinners at the local synagogue potluck? No, he had to go into their homes, forbidden by OT Law yet allowed by Christ when the purpose was evangelism.
So first of all, evangelism needs to be our top priority not just when we are sitting in church but even more so when we are at the local PTA meeting, at a block party, or hanging with our unchurched friends. Second, we have to be wise about the balance between being a godly example and losing the voice with which to speak God’s truth into someone’s life. And finally, we HAVE to quit judging others for their choices in these matters and worry about our own.
Call them from where they are into a life with Christ. Build them up in their faith. Send them out into their world in their way to call the next generation. This is evangelism and this is our calling.