Call to Worship August 23 2020
Expository Thoughts on 1 Corinthians 7:18-23:
When reading these passages often people will first consider the example of one’s station in life from an earthly perspective. While those issues have their place, Paul’s emphasis directs us toward our calling in Christ. See the importance of the Apostle’s teaching and its purpose in practical life. Yet, Paul knows what Solomon tells us to be true. The rich man and poor man, King and peasant, and the wise man and fool are all alike, they live and die. They work and play and have no certainty of what will come after them. They have no certainty of how their work will be valued or sustained. All they know is that they will cease to be in their station of life under the sun. While they know this truth, they try to escape it subconsciously or through man’s righteousness. Yet, their life is but a vapor a speck in cosmic time. Who will truly speak to these matters?
Paul presents the gospel perspective to all of life. The gospel gives an eternal perspective to every station in life. Circumcision and uncircumcision are of no value. Eternally, freedom is of no value. Slave if you may gain your freedom on earth, but have not freedom from the bondage of sin, then your earthly freedom is of no eternal worth. The Jew, Gentile, slave and freeman all face the same truth as the preacher of Ecclesiastes described, vanity of vanities all is vanity under the sun. So, the Corinthians were told to value Christ above all else. No matter their station in life, Christ was the only freedom that ultimately mattered.
Paul was not being unsympathetic, but was addressing a reality that the social gospel of all ages cares not to address. In every age people have tried to free themselves from some type of tyranny. Yet, when all is said and done, subsequent generations have found tyranny repackaged in different people with new ribbons in circumstance. This is why the bible still speaks today. It addresses a reality that liberal and predominantly social gospel people rarely if ever truly desire to address. The world is not basically good, it is full of sinners by nature and history proves it. Not to mention that the scripture declares it.
So, Paul makes sure his readers understand. The world is more than a difficult place, it is filled with wretched sinners and a system of wretchedness engrained in society. Yes, freedom is a good thing. Yet, if a person is not free from the debt of their sin they ultimately have nothing of value. Take for instance the only slave rebellion during the Atlantic slave period in the Caribbean and Americas that was successful. In modern day Haiti slaves rebelled in 1791and won their freedom. Yet, Haiti today is impoverished beyond most of our imaginations.
Now, before those of European descent get too haughty, consider the Euro-American fight against the taxing tyranny of the British government. The American founding documents are great from a human perspective. Yet, what was supposed to be the grandest experiment of free people in all of history, has turned into a politically rancorous nation. The balance of power in our country has each branch of government accusing the other of malfeasance. Lying of super-Pinocchio proportion extends the nose of past and present politicians. The modern day media more than fits the quintessential title of “muck rakers”. It seems as though every aspect of life now causes individuals in our country to be suspect of one another, especially if they do not follow our personal views in just about everything. Certainly, believers should not think that this is the promise land. Even unbelievers would be smart to question the future of this nation. Nation building is of limited longstanding value on earth and of no worth for eternity. Please understand, we should be industrious and good citizens according to scripture, and be thankful for our country. However, we must recognize our righteousness is not found in any nation. This was everything that Paul was trying to explain to the Judaizers. Yet, they held on to their preferential personal piety. May we remember the words of Paul: “For he who was called in the Lord while a slave, is the Lord’s freedman; likewise he who was called while free, is Christ’s slave. 23 You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.” (1 Cor. 7:22-23 NAU)