Week of June 12-18, 2016
What is Important to Know: (Exegetical Perspective)
This chapter presents an interesting situation with which we cannot identify. In the ancient world meals were held in pagan temples on a regular basis. The meat served had been dedicated to the idol associate with the temple. The friends of Christians might invite them to these meals. Some Christians, who had once practiced this form of worship before finding faith in Christ, might refuse to attend. Part of their refusal might be the fear that they would feel temptation to slide back into the lifestyle of that pagan religion. Other Christians took the attitude that the “gods” worshipped in these temples did not exist, so eating the meat would not affect their faith in Christ.
Paul’s concern, however, was that Christians who felt the temptation might become confused by watching other Christians participate in these meals. Paul pleads for understanding among the Christians who see no problem in participating in the meals. Even though they are correct that the idols do not exist, Paul wants them to consider the spiritual needs of those who might experience the temptation to fall back into a pre-Christian lifestyle.
Where is God in These Words: (Theological Perspective)
Paul powerfully proclaims God as creator. Paul agrees with the “strong” Christians who understand that the idols are nothing. Paul affirms God as sole creator of the universe through the agency of Jesus Christ. This creator God also chooses us, so that we belong to God.
What Does This Mean For Our Lives: (Pastoral Perspective)
We must work from the principle that Paul establishes. We do not concern ourselves with meat offered to idols. However, our actions can affect other Christians. We should take care that what we do does not harm the faith of a struggling Christian.
One possible analogy: Some Christians refuse to attend R-rated movies. Other Christians believe that some R-rated movies are acceptable for them, perhaps because the movie has important artistic and philosophical substance. In some sense, the Christians who refuse to attend any R-rated movie should not judge those Christians who attend selected R-rated movies. But, Christians should keep in mind that some other Christians may have found faith after an addiction to pornography. In that case, the Christians who attend selected R-rated movies should be careful discussing them in front of Christians who feel a temptation to slip back into a previous lifestyle. One R-rated movie might lead to a slippery slope for them. Christians who can handle an R-rated movie should not say to a weaker Christian, “aw come on, it won’t be the end of the world.”
What is God’s Word Calling us to Do: (Homiletical Perspective)
We should show patience to the struggles of other Christians. We should seek to understand and support Christians who face temptations that we do not understand. We should show a sacrificial love to others who face challenges.
Questions for Reflection:
- What other analogies can you think of besides R-rated movies?
- What kinds of sacrifices should we make to support the faith of other Christians?
- When have you felt disappointed in the actions of another Christian? How did you handle it?