Monday, January 26, 2009
1 Corinthians 7:17-24
Live the life assigned
However that may be, let each of you lead the life that the Lord has assigned, to which God called you. This is my rule in all the churches. Was anyone at the time of his call already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision. Was anyone at the time of his call uncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision. Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing; but obeying the commandments of God is everything. Let each of you remain in the condition in which you were called.
Were you a slave when called? Do not be concerned about it. Even if you can gain your freedom, make use of your present condition now more than ever. For whoever was called in the Lord as a slave is a freed person belonging to the Lord, just as whoever was free when called is a slave of Christ. You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of human masters. In whatever condition you were called, brothers and sisters, there remain with God.
Comments: Paul believed that the second coming of Christ would be in his lifetime. (Paul didn’t get it right all the time, just like all the other apostles!) The majority of the followers of Jesus in Corinth were Greeks by heritage. There were those who were followers of Jesus who were Jewish that were traveling and preaching in the various synagogues that the Greeks had to become Jews and follow Mosaic Law to be a part of the synagogues of Corinth. For Greeks, circumcision was a shameful mutilation of the body. For Jews, it was a sign of the covenant that God had with the Chosen People. Paul is saying to them—it doesn’t matter if you are circumcised or not. What is going on in the heart is what it what is important.
I don’t think we appreciate the clash of culture that was going on in the first century. Many Jews had become like the culture of the area around them. The Jews from Jerusalem were holding on to traditions of their culture. It caused tremendous problems for both sides. Add the Romanizing of the whole region brought another level of disorientation for the people of the Roman Empire. I am wondering if this is not like the present problems in Iraq. The modernization of traditional values with the pressure of American culture leads to the kind of anger and swing toward fundamentalism. Paul’s wisdom, that it isn’t about the culture, it is about one’s relationship with God holds true today. It isn’t the outward observance that is important, but the way one lives out the relationship with God with respect and honor that appeals to God.