Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Holding This Life Loosely

1 Cor. 7:29-31 is an interesting passage, “This is what I mean, brothers: the appointed time has grown very short. From now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods, and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away.”   This is certainly not a text you would want to isolate and interpret by itself.  It is interesting that many have actually interpreted it exactly opposite of what Paul is teaching us here.  I am thinking of the debacle of 1844 and 45 where the false teachings of the Seventh Day Adventist which included the idea that Christ was going to come back during those years caused the adherents to sell everything, don white robes, climb a mountain and wait for Jesus.  In essence they turned their back on the lost world so they could be enraptured with Christ and in the end was of no value to either the world or Christ.
So what is Paul saying then when he says that if you are married you are to live as if you are not, etc?  He clearly is connecting it to the 2nd Coming and the idea that time is short and that we are in a temporary situation.  Well he isn’t saying that a man can ignore or mistreat his family, even for the sake of Christ.  Pastor’s kids have gotten their reputation because they have many times been ignored for the “sake of the ministry” as if a man’s call to preach somehow takes precedent over his first calling to be a husband and a father.  A man with a true desire to serve and honor the Lord will be the best husband and the best father he can be. 
What I think Paul is saying in this context is that you have to understand that neither your family nor any of the other things listed are the end of life nor are they the meaning of life.  They are given to you as a means to serve the Lord just like everything else you have.  He is not saying any of these things are sinful but as Christians all these things are sanctified for the Lord’s use.  I think this is the general meaning back in vs. 14, “For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.” 
So we are being told that we must hold on to these things loosely; we must be ready to let them go at a moment’s notice.  We don’t let them go in some selfish, misguided notion that we can serve the Lord better without them, but if the Lord sees fit to take your husband away in martyrdom or sickness, then that is his business and we must remember that we are here for him first and foremost.  We love our families as dear as life itself, but we have been given these things only for a season.  In eternity there will be no families and marriage for Christ has always been destined to be our eternal spouse.

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