In church this morning, my husband preached on I Corinthians 8. It is a scripture on mature Christians being sensitive to weaker brothers and sisters in the faith. Paul is instructing mature believers to give up doing something they believe is acceptable if it would cause a weaker Christian to stumble. I had heard this portion of scripture preached on several times before over the years and thought I understood its premise. I was not looking forward to hearing it again. I wanted something fresh and new. This seemed like “milk” and I wanted “meat”.
My mind was shutting down when Jonah, one of our young men who reads the Scripture Sunday morning, read this:
Now, concerning what you wrote about food offered to idols.
It is true, of course, that “all of us have knowledge,” as they say. Such knowledge, however, puffs a person up with pride; but love builds up. 2 Those who think they know something really don’t know as they ought to know. 3 But the person who loves God is known by him. ~ I Corinthians 8:1-3.
Whoa, all of a sudden, he is talking to me! I am saying I already know this and I don’t want to hear it again. “Those who think they know something really don’t know as they ought to know.” (verse 2) What is it I “ought to know” that I don’t know? That verse stood out to me like a flashing neon light.
Later in I Corinthians Paul explicated what he began earlier:
I may be able to speak the languages of human beings and even of angels, but if I have no love, my speech is no more than a noisy gong or a clanging bell. 2 I may have the gift of inspired preaching; I may have all knowledge and understand all secrets; I may have all the faith needed to move mountains—but if I have no love, I am nothing. 3 I may give away everything I have, and even give up my body to be burned—but if I have no love, this does me no good. I Corinthians 13:1-3
What I ought to have known was that my impatience and irritation was not loving. I wanted to move on, but there may have been those who needed to know what was in this chapter. The message for me was not about what to do with meat sacrificed to idols, it was about being a part of the family of God this morning and being attentive to the needs of others.
Last evening, I was watching a clip of young brilliant John Adams venting his frustration at the slow proceedings at the First Continental Congress to the seasoned elder statesman from Pennsylvania, Benjamin Franklin. He just couldn’t understand why fellow patriots did not move quickly on his arguments concerning independence.
Benjamin Franklin said it was not so much that others disagreed with Mr. Adams, but that he was making enemies with the way that he presented his arguments. Mr. Franklin conceded that Mr Adams was brilliant and even “correct” in his arguments, but, at the same time, he was arrogant and insulting, demeaning and rude. Paul might have said, “he was a clanging bell”. Thankfully, the clanging bell had a teachable spirit and through wise delegation became quite influential in leading his fellow patriots to declare their independence from England, but it was a lesson he had to learn over and over again.
Just as I was ready to push the publish button on this post, my son, Harry, called to say he had walked out of a meeting of united churches in Philadelphia today. He said he couldn’t stand the people whining about discrimination and poverty and the churches saying enough wasn’t being done.. This is a young man who freely gives of his resources to help the poor and began many service ministries in his local church. He believes this is what the church is to be about. He was upset, however, that these people wanted the government to do more. He was so exasperated. I was able to listen, empathize and remind him God was in control. I suggested he just needed to let go and let God. He is too much like his mother. sigh