“But be careful that this right of yours in no way becomes a stumbling block to the weak.” – 1 Corinthians 8:9 (CSB)
To eat or not to eat? That was the question in Corinth. Was it okay for Christians who felt the freedom to eat meat sacrificed as part of pagan rituals to do so? Or should they abstain from eating if it would harm some of their brothers and sisters in Christ. Paul’s answer to both questions: yes.
We would do well to apply his conclusions to the positions and actions we take today. We may be within our “rights” to do something, but that doesn’t mean it’s necessary or helpful to do it. Christianity is not about declaring our rights. It’s about laying them aside for the good of others. After all, we follow a Savior who did not cling to his rights but willingly relinquished them for our salvation. The least we can do out of gratitude is treat others the same way.
If anyone thinks he knows anything, he does not yet know it as he ought to know it. – 1 Corinthians 8:2 (CSB)
Contextually, Paul is warning the Corinthians to not be flippant in their attitude toward idolatry and the impact it might have on fellow believers. Their presumptive attitude was not reflective of a love for God or others. His point goes beyond this example though.
Pride leads us all to believe we know more than we actually know. It’s why we pontificate on subjects we know little about even when we lack the basic facts. It’s why everyone else’s problems seem easily solved. But if we lack the humility to admit what we don’t know, if we are unwilling to learn and grow, if we assume we have the whole story without bothering to ask, everyone suffers. It impacts our parenting, our marriage, and our relationships. None of us have arrived. We have much to learn in every arena of life. Especially when it comes to God and the immeaurable depths of his grace and mercy toward sinners like us.
“O death, where is your sting?” Anyone who has lost someone they care about knows that the sting of death is here. It’s present and real in a broken world. The lasting, eternal sting of death is gone but not the temporal pain.
The hope of Heaven removes the despair that surrounds death but it does not remove the sadness.
“Oh goodie, another book ‘re-framing’ contemporary issues in light of Scripture.” That was my thought as I read the dust jacket synopsis of a book by a scholar whose work I enjoy and respect but whose conclusions I don’t always share. Admittedly, I haven’t read this book. But my take away from the table of contents is that this is another book redefining certain moral and theological issues that modern culture finds unappealing.
I get that. Christians haven’t done themselves a favor in the way they have presented their beliefs about issues like creation, gender roles, and sexuality. But in spite what many people say, these issues are not the ones that are keeping them from embracing Christianity. They are definately issues. But they are smokescreen issues. The real issue is deeper. It goes back to what Paul said to the Corinthians – that the cross both draws people in and pushes them away. The idea that we are helpless and in need of a Savior is difficult to admit. It’s humbling. It’s why the cross is still a stumbling block 2000 years later.