“If the world hates you,” Jesus went on, “know that it hated me before it hated you. If you were from the world, the world would be fond of its own. But the world hates you for a reason: that you’re not from the world. No: I chose you out of the world. Remember the word that I said to you: servants are not greater than their masters. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you too.” (15:19-20)
Should we try to fit in?
If we totally fit into our world, is there a problem? If we think and act like our non-Christian neighbors, should we be concerned? If we are as liked by anybody we meet as anyone else, is that less than ideal? Jesus seems to think so.
Now let me ask a few more specific and potentially uncomfortable questions and invite you to respond and ask your own questions of this sort in your comments. Should we dress like the world? Should our budgets, pocketbooks, and retirement plans look different? Should our definitions of success be different? Should we be bothered by mainstream entertainment? Should we find it hard to embrace any particular political candidate and party completely?
But how much difference is too much and just makes us unnecessarily odd, not “persecuted”?
What do you think?
Tags: Bible, Christianity, conformity, fitting in, holiness, jesus, John, non-conformity, odd, persecution, reading, standing out, weird
There was a real question in Paul’s mind about the degree to which a Christian could follow the cultural norm. That by itself is a point some Christians in this world need to bear in mind. If we think we can be an everyday Christian and an everyday American or Canadian or Filipino or Saudi Arabian, we are kidding ourselves. Nonetheless, there were still many details to work out about this point, and the Corinthians were slowly sorting through the details with Paul’s help.
Paul gives a foundational principle for ethics in this chapter, though:
So, then, whatever you eat or drink or whatever you do, do everything to God’s glory. (10:31)
As a Christian sorts out how to live everyday life, there is a guiding principle that is more important that was is lawful (c.f., 10:23), more important that what is right or wrong, more important that what one has the right to do, more important that even our own preferences and desires. Before asking what we want to do, we need to ask whether something brings glory to God. Does this make God look good? Does this draw people closer to God or further away?
The Corinthians needed to bear that in mind as they determined what kinds of food to eat, and when and where to eat it. They need to remember this when they lived in community with each other and influenced the behavior of their brothers and sisters. They needed to remember this as they decided how to interact socially in church and how to view the worth and acceptance of others. Does this bring glory to God?
What would be different if we today used this same guiding principle?
Categories: 1 Corinthians
Tags: 1 Corinthians, behavior, Bible, cultural, desires, enculturation, ethics, fitting in, glory, God, holiness, honor, preferences, reading, rights, standing out