Friday, June 08, 2007

Those Ornery and Contentious Corinthians...

1Corinthians 7-12

The churches in the Greek port city of Corinth had written a letter to their founding pastor and father in the faith: Paul. They had some sticky ethical questions, some practical family life questions, and some ornery authority questions. I suppose that you could say about these city-folks: Corinthians will do what Corinthians want to do; nobody tells them what to do.

For example, one of their questions, which comes to Paul as a statement: "It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman." It is an odd line of thinking, and Paul jumps all over it. His thought: the described situation is not good in and of itself, it depends on the circumstances. The Corinthians tried to come across looking pious and pure, but they ended up being exposed as frauds.
Paul gives them an honest assessment of their culture: you live in a sex-obsessed city, don't lose control of your body. If you are a man or woman who really wants and needs sex, do what it takes to be worthy of marriage and find a mate and stick to them, become one with them, honor God in how you love them. If you are a man or woman who doesn't really want or need sex, then don't get married and don't worry about it. But don't make sex a bigger deal than it really is; keep God the bigger deal.

On the food issue, the contentious Corinthians wrote: "We all possess knowledge." Paul deftly answers the food questions with some wisdom and God-commands. But then he gets to the real heart of the issue: these church-goers don't want Paul, or anybody, telling them what to do; telling them that they are in the wrong about food and sex. So they assert their equality, even superiority to Paul - they know stuff too, so back off. Paul doesn't back off, he knows that love and truth is on his side - he responds brilliantly: "Knowledge puffs up while love builds up. Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know. But whoever loves God is known by God." Absolutley brilliant.

Paul goes on to stress the freedom that the gospel brings, a freedom to love and not a freedom to use your knowledge to make something of yourself. They say: "I have the right to do anything." Paul affirms the truth of that statement, but brilliantly follows it up with: "But not everything is beneficial or constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others."

Those ornery and contentious Corinthians were seeking their own good...which is why they were Christians. Paul is calling you and I to a radical life: seek the good of others. Think about your everyday life centered around seeking the good of others within your neighborhood, amongst your gathered fellow believers...

Ornery and Contentious Christians seek their own good. Stop it!!!!!!

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