Today's Chapter: 1 Corinthians 8
Specific Text: 1 Corinthians 8:9-13
This is a tough passage to apply to our context. The basic question for us is what are we doing as mature Christians that is tripping up people we know who are just starting to figure out who Jesus is? But how many people do you even know who are just starting to go through a life changing experience because they just met Jesus? It's a safe bet that you won't trip up any brand new Christians if you don't even know any brand new Christians!
The people Paul wrote this to were using what they had learned about Jesus selfishly. They had figured out that they were saved by grace alone through faith alone, and not by what they did or did not eat, so they loaded up their plates, which really offended their fellow church members who hadn't quite figured all of this out yet (in their day, the only place to buy meat was at one of the dozens of pagan temples that slaughtered animals as sacrifices).
Obviously, we don't have this problem anymore, but we are still just as selfish with our knowledge of Jesus. Our primary goal as Christians is to experience the peace that comes from knowing Jesus. Of course this is a good thing, but if we are not sharing the peace we've experienced, we are being selfish.
When we begin truly sharing the peace of Christ, it's going to create problems. The people who start coming to church are going to be different that what we're used to. They're not going to know the songs we sing. They're going to look and act differently than us. It's just going to seem weird and uncomfortable.
We need to start creating some of these problems in our church. Look at the level of commitment Paul demonstrates in v13: he's willing to totally give up eating meat - totally change his lifestyle - in order to share the peace of Jesus. Welcoming new and different types of people into our church will certainly cause all sorts of problems and issues, but one could paraphrase Paul's advice here as "Suck it up, Buttercup."
The ironic thing is that the more you loosen your grip on just experiencing the peace of Jesus and begin sharing it with others, the more peace you will actually experience for yourself!
Prayer For The Day: Dear Father in heaven; thank you for the peace that I can experience as a member of this church. Help me to recognize the opportunities to share your peace with others, even if they seem different and weird.