Posts Tagged ‘1 Corinthians’

Knowing precisely who we are is the key to spiritual versatility.

A solid core renders possible myriad accommodations without sliding over into hypocrisy. The apostle Paul was so seized by his encounter with Christ, so anchored ‘in Christ’, that he could walk the walk and talk the talk of all kinds of human beings.

To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings. (1 Corinthians 9:20–23 ESV)

Perhaps followers of Jesus worry overmuch about ‘acting out of our gifting’, of ‘being true to ourselves’. (more…)


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Noise is inarticulate sound. It expresses little or nothing. It does not mean.

I’m reminded of an elementary school memory. A music teacher, bent on helping us distinguish noise from music, asked us for examples of each. It was, at best, a naive errand, a tilting at windmills. We were, after all, nine years old and half of us were boys. (more…)

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Paul, anguished and ashamed about portions of his biography, is hardly timid about others.

Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.

Lest we take the familiar path of dismissing Paul as uncouth and reptilian, it’s a good thing to notice how closely he links his worthiness to Christ and the ‘traditions’ about Jesus that he stewards for the sake of the communities he loves. (more…)

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When the conversation become difficult, we agree to bow together before the idol named Balance.

‘Well, it’s really a matter of balance,’ we intone, only half suspecting that we are confessing a lie.

A slightly more sophisticated half-truth, half-lie stakes its seductive claim thus: ‘Well, these things must always be held in tension.’

We speak carelessly of love and truth as though they were fruits of the same size placed into our refrigerating care. We discourse with all the shallow persuasiveness of truism about ‘Grace’ and ‘Law’ and their needful equilibrium.

So does good intention come to smell of distortion, divine disclosure of human fabrication. (more…)

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The apostle Paul speaks most eloquently when his soaring prose contemplates the Lord’s limitless mercy.

Yet he can be short and almost savage when he sees the community’s integrity threatened by behavior that presumes upon that grace. Faced with reports of sexual chaos in the Corinthian church, Paul proposes radical surgery:

I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.

What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. ‘Expel the wicked man from among you.’

Two clarifications are in order. (more…)

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Human beings are designed for eternity. Whether by procreation or resurrection, our longing for eternality surpasses our desire to return to the dust from whence we came. (more…)

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