We read the Bible not only for inspiration, but also to give us insight into being a faith community. I’m often intrigued by stories of the early church that appear in Acts and Paul’s letters. The latter sometimes gives us a close, unfiltered look at early Christianity – its triumphs and struggles.
The church in Corinth had many conflicts. Strain was evident between the newcomers to faith and the veterans. I’ve seen it happen and you have too. Those new to the faith may have a perspective different from long time members about the ways Christians should act and worship. A great controversy occurred in that time that we no longer face, about whether Christians could eat meat offered to idols as part of a pagan worship ceremony. Paul and the established Christians knew the idols weren’t real. The meat in their minds was just meat. Yet the newcomers felt it was blasphemous, disrespectful and outright dangerous to eat such food. They feared it would pull them back into their old ways of living and worshipping as pagans. What was a decent church to do?
As Protestants, our freedom in faith is precious to us. We don’t tend to like constraints. We don’t always like to be told what to think and believe. Yet the tension is built in for us; how far will we go before we damage someone else’s faith by our words or our actions? Paul has a great resolution to this problem. There is one rule (and really only one) that works in this kind of situation. We’ll share the rule on Sunday. See you in church!