The Christians in Corinth of the first century parallel some of what we experience today. They were divided and not getting along. Sexual immorality was present and accepted. There was compromise with idolatry. Even the Lord’s Supper had lost its meaning and had become something that divided. It is sad that so many of these can still be found today.
But what is the real problem? Is it not that we are allowing the world – the thoughts and values around us – to shape our lives more than we allow God’s word to influence us? Far too many Christians allow political ideology, the latest movements or social media to determine what we believe and how we react – even towards other Christians.
When Paul wrote to the Christians in Corinth, he reminded them of their primary responsibility.
“Nevertheless, each person should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them. This is the rule I lay down in all the churches. Was a man already circumcised when he was called? He should not become uncircumcised. Was a man uncircumcised when he was called? He should not be circumcised. Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God’s commands is what counts. Each person should remain in the situation they were in when God called them. Were you a slave when you were called? Don’t let it trouble you – although if you can gain your freedom, do so. For the one who was a slave when called to faith in the Lord is the Lord’s freed person; similarly, the one who was free when called is Christ’s slave. You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of human beings. Brothers and sisters, each person, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation they were in when God called them.” (1 Corinthians 7:17-24 NIV)
Living as a Christian wasn’t a matter of outward conforming to a religious ideology – or any ideology for that matter. It isn’t a matter of conforming to anyone’s ‘rules’ but the necessity of obeying God: “Keeping God’s commands is what counts”.
Even the matter of being a slave was not what should define a Christian. “Don’t let it trouble you.” We can be a Christian in any circumstance – but being a free person would be an advantage, so gaining freedom would be worthwhile. But Paul reminded them that if they were a slave because they were in Christ they were his free person. And, in the same way, if we are a free person when we become a Christian we are taking on a new master and so, in reality, we are Christ’s slave.
“You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of human beings.” Paul reminded them of who they were in Christ. A great price had been paid for them – the same price that was paid for each of us. Because of the price that was paid, Jesus has a claim on us as our master. We are to serve him.
Because of our new relationship with Jesus we must not allow anything else to enslave us. To put this in more modern terms, don’t allow anything to determine what we think and do. Western society is becoming more and more polarised. Too many look with suspicion on anyone who thinks differently than they do. Yet Christians are called to think and live differently. We are to be different.
What is the message for today? Don’t allow the latest trends to define us. Don’t allow social media and the latest movements to determine what we think and believe. Instead, centre our thoughts and minds on Jesus. Allow God’s word to be the guiding force in our lives.
Image by Colin Behrens from pixabay.com.
Readings for next week: 1 Corinthians 7-13