Corinthians – Belief and Behavior
A prince came to town looking for true love, someone who would love and accept him as much as he would love and accept her. He soon found her and offered her his promise of a marriage commitment. She was thrilled at the prospect and opportunity to leave her life as a pauper to become the wife of a soon to be king! He even knelt down and offered her his kingdom if she would promised to love and marry him. She said yes immediately!
The prince told his soon to be bride that he would have to leave for a while to go back to the palace where he would get a place ready for them. She was full of joy as she dreamed of the magnificent home she would soon live in with her prince.
While he was gone, however, it was as if the engagement never happened. She never talked about her prince. She didn’t tell anyone of her engagement or the promise of living with him forever in the palace. She began dating others in town. She threw parties with no mention of her prince. Her love for him quickly faded in his absence. She forgot all about him.
Could this represent the church of Jesus Christ, our King? It happened to God’s people Moses was trying to lead. Look at the history, Paul writes. “The same thing could happen to us.” Sometimes we behave like the engaged one who has forgotten to Whom we are committed.
Paul reminds the church gone wild in Corinth of the “warning markers” that indicate memory loss of our commitment to our Savior and Lord. He also reminds the church (us) that we don’t compartmentalize our faith and pull it out only on Sundays. “We don’t reduce Christ to what we are; He raises us to what He is.”
“We can’t have it both ways, banqueting with the Master one day and slumming with demons the next. The Master won’t put up with it. He wants US–all or nothing.”
“…the point is not to just get by. We want to live well,but our foremost efforts should be to help OTHERS live well.” Our behavior reflects what we truly believe.
Do ALL to God’s glory, not to please others. “At the same time, don’t be callous in your exercise of freedom, thoughtlessly stepping on toes…” “…be considerate of everyone’s feelings in all these matters”
1 Corinthians 10, The Message
1-5 Remember our history, friends, and be warned. All our ancestors were led by the providential Cloud and taken miraculously through the Sea. They went through the waters, in a baptism like ours, as Moses led them from enslaving death to salvation life. They all ate and drank identical food and drink, meals provided daily by God. They drank from the Rock, God’s fountain for them that stayed with them wherever they were. And the Rock was Christ. But just experiencing God’s wonder and grace didn’t seem to mean much—most of them were defeated by temptation during the hard times in the desert, and God was not pleased.
6-10 The same thing could happen to us. We must be on guard so that we never get caught up in wanting our own way as they did. And we must not turn our religion into a circus as they did—“First the people partied, then they threw a dance.” We must not be sexually promiscuous—they paid for that, remember, with 23,000 deaths in one day! We must never try to get Christ to serve us instead of us serving him; they tried it, and God launched an epidemic of poisonous snakes. We must be careful not to stir up discontent; discontent destroyed them.
11-12 These are all warning markers—danger!—in our history books, written down so that we don’t repeat their mistakes. Our positions in the story are parallel—they at the beginning, we at the end—and we are just as capable of messing it up as they were. Don’t be so naive and self-confident. You’re not exempt. You could fall flat on your face as easily as anyone else. Forget about self-confidence; it’s useless. Cultivate God-confidence.
13 No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.
14 So, my very dear friends, when you see people reducing God to something they can use or control, get out of their company as fast as you can.
15-18 I assume I’m addressing believers now who are mature. Draw your own conclusions: When we drink the cup of blessing, aren’t we taking into ourselves the blood, the very life, of Christ? And isn’t it the same with the loaf of bread we break and eat? Don’t we take into ourselves the body, the very life, of Christ? Because there is one loaf, our many-ness becomes one-ness—Christ doesn’t become fragmented in us. Rather, we become unified in him. We don’t reduce Christ to what we are; he raises us to what he is. That’s basically what happened even in old Israel—those who ate the sacrifices offered on God’s altar entered into God’s action at the altar.
19-22 Do you see the difference? Sacrifices offered to idols are offered to nothing, for what’s the idol but a nothing? Or worse than nothing, a minus, a demon! I don’t want you to become part of something that reduces you to less than yourself. And you can’t have it both ways, banqueting with the Master one day and slumming with demons the next. Besides, the Master won’t put up with it. He wants us—all or nothing. Do you think you can get off with anything less?
23-24 Looking at it one way, you could say, “Anything goes. Because of God’s immense generosity and grace, we don’t have to dissect and scrutinize every action to see if it will pass muster.” But the point is not to just get by. We want to live well, but our foremost efforts should be to help others live well.
25-28 With that as a base to work from, common sense can take you the rest of the way. Eat anything sold at the butcher shop, for instance; you don’t have to run an “idolatry test” on every item. “The earth,” after all, “is God’s, and everything in it.” That “everything” certainly includes the leg of lamb in the butcher shop. If a nonbeliever invites you to dinner and you feel like going, go ahead and enjoy yourself; eat everything placed before you. It would be both bad manners and bad spirituality to cross-examine your host on the ethical purity of each course as it is served. On the other hand, if he goes out of his way to tell you that this or that was sacrificed to god or goddess so-and-so, you should pass. Even though you may be indifferent as to where it came from, he isn’t, and you don’t want to send mixed messages to him about who you are worshiping.
29-30 But, except for these special cases, I’m not going to walk around on eggshells worrying about what small-minded people might say; I’m going to stride free and easy, knowing what our large-minded Master has already said. If I eat what is served to me, grateful to God for what is on the table, how can I worry about what someone will say? I thanked God for it and he blessed it!
31-33 So eat your meals heartily, not worrying about what others say about you—you’re eating to God’s glory, after all, not to please them. As a matter of fact, do everything that way, heartily and freely to God’s glory. At the same time, don’t be callous in your exercise of freedom, thoughtlessly stepping on the toes of those who aren’t as free as you are. I try my best to be considerate of everyone’s feelings in all these matters; I hope you will be, too.
Think about it…
Paul passionately demonstrates his love for God and for others. Every breath he takes is worship to Christ and Him crucified. This should be our story of His story in our lives. We live because Jesus Christ lives. We are free because Jesus redeemed us. Jesus fulfilled his promise and commitment to us. Are we fulfilling our promise to Him? Do we talk to Him and about Him with anticipation and expectant joy? Like a bride getting ready for her groom?
Dear Heavenly Father,
Renew the joy of Your salvation in us. Restore our memories today of all you have done, are doing and will do in and through us. Continue to transform me as I wait for your return. Transform your church, your bride. Transform the world.
In Jesus Name, Amen
And I’m singing…”Even So Come”
All of creation
All of the earth
Make straight a highway
A path for the Lord
Jesus is coming soon
Call back the sinner
Wake up the saint
Let every nation
Shout of Your fame
Jesus is coming soon
Like a bride
Waiting for her groom
We’ll be a church
Ready for You
Every heart longing for our King
Even so come
Lord Jesus come…