Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Transcendence of Christianity

1 Cor. 7:17-24 offers some great and practical instruction in the Christian faith. 1Co 7:17  Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches.   7:18  Was anyone at the time of his call already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision. Was anyone at the time of his call uncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision. 1Co 7:19  For neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God. 1Co 7:20  Each one should remain in the condition in which he was called. 1Co 7:21  Were you a slave when called? Do not be concerned about it. (But if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity.) 1Co 7:22  For he who was called in the Lord as a slave is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a slave of Christ. 1Co 7:23  You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men. 1Co 7:24  So, brothers, in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God.

Basically Paul is saying that once God saves you and gives you the Holy Spirit along with the Word of God a Christian can serve the Lord under any and all circumstances.  He gives two examples, circumcision and slavery.  His point is that whatever situation you find yourself in when you are converted does not need to change now that you are saved.  The Law has passed away and so there is no need to be circumcised if you aren't nor try to undo it if you are.  Vs. 17 explains that we must accept the providence of God that has put us where we are and realize that this is the place God wants us to serve.

Then he uses slavery as an example.  I suppose many would find these words astonishing that if you are a slave when you are converted don't assume that you must be freed in order to be a faithful servant of the Lord.  Yes, if you can be freed by all means go for it.  But if in the providence of God you cannot change that then the beauty of Christianity is that it works under every circumstance.  We should assume this because we know that nothing happens apart from the sovereign will of God.  So if any enemy invades our land and I am taken as a slave then it is God who has put me there and it would be contrary to my profession to think that he has put me in a situation in which I cannot serve him.

So even if I am a slave to men, I am first of all a slave to Christ and he is the one I serve.  So Paul says even a slave has been freed from sin so that he can serve the Lord and so I must not let men stop me for obeying the Lord.  In vs. 23 he isn't saying don't allow yourself to become a slave but don't let any circumstance, even literal slavery be used as an excuse to become bitter against the Lord and not glorify him to the best of your ability.

But let's apply this in a little more practical situation.  Many a married partner or disgruntled employee would do well to think about this.  Just because you are not in the relationship you would like doesn't have anything to do with being great in the kingdom.  If a slave doesn't need to force his freedom to be an effective Christian then certainly a wife or husband isn't to seek to be freed from a spouse that might not meet every need you think you have.  An under paid or under appreciated employee can still serve Christ while he has that job.

Too many times because we find ourselves under circumstances caused by the sinfulness of others we assume that we must get free of it in order to serve the Lord.  But when doing that causes us to have to disobey the clear teaching of God's Word we have taken more upon ourselves than we have a right to.  So we submit ourselves to marriage with a lost partner or one who might not love us like they should and see it as God's will for us because nothing can disqualify us from serving the Lord.  Well, what can disqualify us is becoming bitter at the situation and at God and feeling sorry for ourselves, discontent and refusing to figure out how to serve the Lord in the present trial. 

Again, that is the beauty of being saved.  Whether we are rich, poor, healthy, sickly, young, old, a slave, free, an unloved housewife or unappreciated employee we have a great privilege of serving the Lord.  Perhaps some of us need to remember this just in case the election doesn't go as we would like and our country keeps sliding down the socialist path and even worse becomes more and more secular, ungodly and anti Christian.  Don't get caught up in the idea that if we aren't free or in charge God's work can't be done because it can.  Christianity flourished under Roman rule and it can flourish under Marxism or any other circumstance.  Our God reigns!   

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