I Corinthians 8:1-13

I Corinthians 8:1-13

            The eating idol meat was a hot issue for Paul and the Corinth Church.  One could write long essays on the matter and in fact I have.  For our purposes the details are not so important as is Paul’s solution.  In short, the problem was that pagan converts to Christianity were offended when they saw other Christians eat meat that had been sacrificed to pagan idols.  When former pagans saw this they thought that the other Christians were worshiping pagan gods.  The strong in faith, were those who knew that such meat was not contaminated by pagan spirits, but was meat that was more affordable in the market.

            Paul says that we all have knowledge, yet knowledge “puffs up” but love, “builds up.”  Just because you may know that there is nothing to eating idol meat, if you eat it and offend a brother or sister in Christ, then you sin against Christ.  If you eat it and cause a brother or sister to stumble, then you sin against them and God. 

            There are many good points for us to take from this story.  For instance, those who are strong in faith must be patient with those of lessor faith.  Likewise, words and actions can build up or tear down.   Anytime we begin to tear down we must step back, being “slow to speak and quick to listen” before we act. We should also look at matters from an eternal or spiritual angle.  Does this situation have eternal significance?   Do my actions have eternal significance?  Many of the issues that frustrate us the most are but trivial concerns from an eternal perspective. Finally, we must remember Paul’s words, “love builds up.”  By all means we ought to show with our love our faith in the forgiving God.

            Today it may not be idol meat, but we still put stumbling blocks in front of one another and still find opportunities to offend.  The rule of Paul should be our rule, if it tears down, if it offends, then avoid it.  Paul goes so far as to say that if eating any kind of meat would be a stumbling block for any sibling of faith he would never eat meat again!   

Galatians

            Galatians is a wonderful letter and very inspiring.  During my own reading I found myself contemplating greatly several statements in chapter 6.  Paul writes, “my friends, if anyone is detected in a transgression, you who have received the Spirit should restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness.  Take care that you yourselves are not tempted.  Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.   For if those who are nothing think they are something, they deceive themselves. . .So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith.”

            In a few short words, we are taught to seek to restore one another from transgressions, to bear one another’s burdens, to work for the good of all, especially those of the family of faith and not to think more of ourselves than we ought.

            As we have moved forward with the vision of our church, it has become easy to be distracted by our own efforts.  Yes, we have done something great, but it is only the beginning.  If we lose sight of our purpose by thinking too much of what we have done we have done nothing at all.  This is just one step!  Our purpose is to build bridges in the community, to find ways to reach the children and youth, to create opportunities to spread the gospel and to changes lives. Our purpose is not about ourselves, but God and all of God’s children. 

            I thank God for what we have, and I know that with God’s help we will not stop here but continue forward to God’s glory!  I thank God for what He is doing and will do here at Pisgah UMC!!  Now, “May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. Amen.”               Blessing, Michael