Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Food, Freedom, and Knowledge without Love (1 Corinthians 8)

The Apostle Paul often used real-life situations to highlight the unchanging truths hidden beneath the surface.  In 1 Corinthians 8, he addresses an issue that, while not sinful on the surface, was still causing harm to members of this fledgling church.
“Now let’s talk about food that has been sacrificed to idols. You think that everyone should agree with your perfect knowledge. While knowledge may make us feel important, it is love that really builds up the church. Anyone who claims to know all the answers doesn’t really know very much.  But the person who loves God is the one God knows and cares for.” 1 Corinthians 8:1-3 (NLT) 
Corinth was filled with pagan temples. It was common for worshipers to offer animals to the god as a sacrifice. After a tiny part was burned on the altar, the remainder would be given to the temple priest, servants or local magistrates who then sold the surplus to the town butchers. If you lived in Corinth, there were several ways that you might come in contact with meat that had been sacrificed to idols:

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Things Foolish and Powerful (1 Corinthians 1)

"Best Buy's massive losses: Can new CEO Hubert Joly save the company?" - "Struggling electronics giant Best Buy sank deeper into the mud on Tuesday, when it reported that its second-quarter profit had fallen by 90 percent compared to last year. The company announced that Hubert Joly would take over as CEO.  Critics wonder if Joly is the right man for the job!”

"New CEO Marissa Mayer Could Save Yahoo from Self-destruction"  - “There’s been plenty of buzz around Yahoo’s decision to appoint Google luminary, Marissa Mayer, as their new CEO.  Mayer’s appointment marks the umpteenth time that Yahoo has appointed a new CEO over the past decade in hopes of saving the beleaguered technology company.”

 "Sony: Can a New CEO Save the Struggling Technology Giant?" “Sir Howard Stringer has stepped down as Sony's chief executive. Can his replacement help the company recover from a $2 billion loss?”
In the world of big business, it’s not at all uncommon to see abrupt leadership changes. Each time, the wording of the announcement is similar: “Will this change of CEO bring the necessary skills, experience and wisdom to save our company from total collapse?” It’s a great question!  History books are full of stories of companies that have failed for lack of finding the right solution!

This is exactly what Paul is talking about in chapter one of his first letter to the church in Corinth.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Skin and Soul (1 Corinthians 6)

In an attempt to incorporate historical, literary, cultural and biblical context into Paul's writing in 1 Corinthians 6:12-20, I offer the following paraphrase for the modern Corinthian church of America. I have found that writing like this enables me to better grasp how Paul's readers would have heard the message of the Kingdom of Heaven conveyed to them. To accomplish this, I have drawn from numerous translations, commentaries, and articles. I hope and pray that I have discerned wisely and written well.
       "When I was with you, I talked about my freedom in Christ, which meant that the power of sin no longer controls me, the penalty of sin has been paid by Christ, and I am not in bondage to my inability to keep the Old Testament law.  Apparently, you though I was saying the same thing the Corinthians do:  “I have the right to do anything I want.” 
 That's not what I meant at all.  
I am free from the curse of sin and the law so I am free to live in the grace and peace of God.  There are plenty of things that I can do (free from the law) that I don’t do.  Sometimes these things just aren’t beneficial – they are a waste of my time, or a distraction, or they confuse other people about my commitments (more on this later).  There are other things that will control me  at some point if I’m not careful, and I don’t want to be consumed by or addicted to anything.

 I don’t do those things, even though I “can.”  Because my sinful urges no longer control me, I am free to live well. That’s very different from free to do what I want.