Our text this week is I Corinthians 8 and 9. In those chapters Paul dodges through some complex thoughts about what our freedom in Christ should look like in the community of faith he calls us to experience. To pull Paul’s thoughts together, let’s go back to Genesis and capture the simplicity God had in mind from the beginning:
The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” Genesis 3:15-17
Can you imagine the freedom God provided? He issued just one, and only one, very observable command. Once the first couple crossed that boundary – boundaries, and the penalties that accompanied them proliferated like aphids in the summer.
Disobeying the one command resulted in a profoundly inescapable impact – severing their intimate relationship with God. That severance likewise interrupted and negatively affected relationships among human beings from that time onward. We see and experience the wreckage every day.
In I Corinthians 8 and 9, Paul reflects on the complexity of moving away from a world gnarled in broken relationships to a community of faith that is searching for ways to love one another. In his letter to the Romans, Paul returns to the simplicity of Jesus’ answer to those questions
(from Matthew 22:36-37, Mark 12:28-30, Luke 10:25-27, Deuteronomy 6:4-9, Leviticus 19:18 ) when Jesus was asked which commandment is the greatest in the Law:
Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. Romans 13:8-10 NIV
Turning to Jesus and acknowledging that his death, burial and resurrection was for us, restores our relationship with God and infuses us with power to mend and prevent broken human relationships, especially within the community of faith.
Take a minute to refocus on this ‘main thing’ in your walk with Christ. Ask him to remind you that you have the freedom and power of his Holy Spirit when faced with temptations to harm your neighbor in an attempt to exercise and protect your own interests. Choose this “freedom”.