Highland Presbyterian Church
March 23rd, 2020
Hunkered Down Devotions
I hope this message finds you all being vigilant and doing well. I have found, since I have started regularly using the Daily Lectionary as part of my personal daily devotion, that sometimes when reading a passage, you have to wonder, ‘How did God know I needed just that Word today?’
Today, our New Testament passage provoked just such a response. I feel like this passage is exactly what we all need to hear right now in this strange time and place….. I have included the full passage, so that you have the entire context, but I have also emphasized (by bolding and italicizing) the section that I think is particularly relevant.
1 Corinthians 10:14-11:1 The Voice (VOICE)
14 So then, my beloved friends, run from idolatry in any form. 15 As wise as I know you are, understand clearly what I am saying and determine the right course of action. 16 When we give thanks and share the cup of blessing, are we not sharing in the blood of the Anointed One? When we give thanks and break bread, are we not sharing in His body? 17 Because there is one bread, we, though many, are also one body since we all share one bread. 18 Look no further than Israel and the temple practices, and you’ll see what I mean. Isn’t it true that those who eat sacrificial foods are communing at the altar, sharing its benefits? 19 So what does all this mean? I’m not suggesting that idol food itself has any special qualities or that an idol itself possesses any special powers, 20 but I am saying that the outsiders’ sacrifices are actually offered to demons, not to God. So if you feast upon this food, you are feasting with demons—I don’t want you involved with demons! 21 You can’t hold the holy cup of the Lord in one hand and the cup of demons in the other. You can’t share in the Lord’s table while picking off the altar of demons. 22 Are we trying to provoke the Lord Jesus? Do we think it’s a good idea to stir up His jealousy? Do we have ridiculous delusions about matching or even surpassing His power?
23 There’s a slogan often quoted on matters like this: “All things are permitted.” Yes, but not all things are beneficial. “All things are permitted,” they say. Yes, but not all things build up and strengthen others in the body. 24 We should stop looking out for our own interests and instead focus on the people living and breathing around us.25 Feel free to eat any meat sold in the market without your conscience raising questions about scruples 26 because “the earth and all that’s upon it belong to the Lord.”[a]
27 So if some unbelievers invite you to dinner and you want to go, feel free to eat whatever they offer you without raising questions about conscience. 28-29 But if someone says, “This is meat from the temple altar, a sacrifice to god so-and-so,” then do not eat it. Not so much because of your own conscience [because the earth and everything on it belongs to the Lord],[b] but out of consideration for the conscience of the other fellow who told you about it. So you ask, “Why should I give up my freedom to accommodate the scruples of another?” 30 or, “If I am eating with gratitude to God, why am I insulted for eating food that I have properly given thanks for?” These are good questions.
31 Whatever you do—whether you eat or drink or not—do it all to the glory of God! 32 Do not offend Jews or Greeks or any part of the church of God for that matter. 33 Consider my example: I strive to please all people in all my actions and words—but don’t think I am in this for myself—their rescued souls are the only profit.
11 So imitate me, watch my ways, follow my example, just as I, too, always seek to imitate the Anointed One.
If you read the entire passage above, you know that Paul is addressing questions about what is and what isn’t appropriate in terms of what the followers of Jesus can eat. [Some of the best food available to people in the cities at this time, was from animals sacrificed to pagan gods].
Paul makes it clear that there is nothing wrong with eating that meat, as long as you do so with a clear conscience. However, he adds an important caveat. Here is the note about this section from my Bible: Paul’s instruction on this matter is clear: believers should give up their rights and freedoms for the sake of others. This is the essence of sacrifice. This is what Jesus did. This is what Paul does. Otherwise, community becomes impossible.
We are called, as a primary aspect of our faith in Jesus, to put others before ourselves. One of the first ways that the world around us should know us as Christians is by our regular service to and sacrifice for those around us. This is – or at least is should always be – true, but never has it been more applicable than it is right now.
This isn’t just about following the law of the land and the directions of our government leaders, but not just because we are ‘giving to Caesar what is Caesar’s, but to set an example of love and loving sacrifice for others to see. The study note in my Bible continues: But no state or church authority should force compliance; it must arise from a heart of love and a disposition that puts the needs of others first.
This is an incredibly challenging time for all of us, but it is also an opportunity to show and share with our neighbors the love of Jesus Christ. Be well and keep the faith.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, you set a perfect example for all of us in what it means to love. You made the ultimate sacrifice for us so that we might be able to be part of your family and that we might be the body of Christ. Help us to invite others into community with you through the way we share your love and sacrifice for others. Amen.
Sharing God’s Love,