1 Corinthians 9-11
Remember when I said yesterday that the message about spreading the Good News was coming? Well, we start slowly diving into that idea with these passages today.
In chapter nine Paul discusses how he reaches outsiders… by becoming like them (9:20-22). Did anyone else have to reread those verses a few times? What apostle would tell people that they should become like the outsiders in order to reach them?!? (Hint: Probably one who knew what he was talking about!) Before we get too worked up, let’s look at what was really being written here:
Paul wasn’t saying that we need to go out and change our lifestyles to match the sins of the world, and then try to convince them that a godly lifestyle is better. Rather, Paul is saying that in order to reach people on the outside, we must actually go out and meet people where they’re at. As the Church, we cannot expect to sit high and mighty in a physical building and still reach the lost. We must go out, find those people on the outside, and witness to them from a humble perspective that understands how desperately we need the same message of grace and hope that they do.
Within these chapters Paul does not let the Corinthians forget to think introspectively. In fact, he spins it to describe the importance of checking on our own faith life to continue in our mission. Chapter nine verse 27 reads “I discipline my body and bring it under strict control, so that after preaching to others, I will not be disqualified.” And chapter 10 verse 12 reads “So, whoever thinks he stands must be careful not to fall.” And finally, chapter 11 verse 28 says “So a man should examine himself [before] he should eat the bread and drink from the cup.”. All these verses are essentially Paul saying “Check yourself before you wreck yourself!” Which is completely valid! As the Church goes out into the world to reach those outsiders the temptation and draw away from righteousness is greater than if we only surround ourselves with like-minded people. Without taking time to focus on our own faith life, we will be just as ineffective in spreading the Word as if we did not go out in the first place.
The other idea that Paul writes about in these chapters is how the body of believers must respect one another and stay focused on what really matters. “No one should seek his own good, but the good of the other person.” (10:24) I think it is pretty clearly laid out here; put others first! In chapter 10 Paul is touching on the disagreements that came up related to what the believers were eating, in chapter 11 it was on what the women were wearing while praying. In both these areas, essentially Paul is saying, “It doesn’t matter as long as they aren’t going against God!”. Sometimes the Church can get wrapped up in those little disagreements and start to divide over things that will not matter in the Kingdom, which is why Paul tells us that “whatever you do, do everything for God’s glory.” (10:31) When we can recognize what issues in the Church truly matter, the body is built up and can refocus on their main mission of reaching those on the outside.
Today, take time to evaluate your own walk of faith. See where you can come closer to God while still being closer to those on the outside. Reflect on your local church and see which little issues you can set aside for the sake of the Kingdom.
I’m excited for our next few chapters as we talk about the importance of each member in the Church!
Happy Monday everyone!
Sarah Blanchard Johnson
Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 1 Corinthians 9-11.
Tomorrow we will continue with chapters 12-14.