Psalm 119:89-176 1 Corinthians 8
“But be careful that your freedom does not cause those who are weak in faith to fall into sin.” (1 Corinthians 8:9 NCV)
The Greeks had some crazy views on life. The Corinthians maxed those views out. Many had trouble believing the resurrection because they saw the body as evil. Why would God come to earth in bodily form and then rise from the dead in bodily form? Because the body was evil, two schools of thought developed. One led to asceticism where someone would do only the bare minimum to take care of the body. The other led to indulgence since the body didn’t matter, whatever you did in the body didn’t matter because when our spirits left their bodies, they would be freed from this earthly evil. In the church, this led to a rebellion against the pagan temples. If God was real, and He was, and if He was the only true God, which He was, then all the offerings at pagan temples were nothing. Some Christians would openly buy meat at a pagan temple, because it was cheap and serve it for dinner. Other Christians, especially those who had just been delivered from the bondage of pagan religions, were appalled by this. Some would hear the reasoning of those “strong” Christians and join in when their consciences kept telling them it was wrong. As a result, they’d suffer a crisis of faith.
I believe that when Paul uses the terms “strong” and “weak” in this letter, he was echoing the words of the Corinthians themselves. What did the Corinthians tell Paul? Probably something like “Some of us are strong enough in our faith to know that since there is only one God, food offered to idols is nothing, and thus we’re free to eat it. We keep running into trouble with these weak Christians who are so superstitious that they get upset when we do this. How would you handle this?” They wanted to know how to make the “weak” Christians change. Paul’s response was to tell the “strong” Christians to look out for their “weaker” brothers. The “strong” Christians showed an amazing amount of arrogance wanting the weak Christians to conform to their views of the Christian life. There are a lot of Christians who take this stance: my view of Christianity is not only correct, it’s the only correct way to follow God and if you don’t do it my way, you’re a weak Christian. I imagine if the “weak” Christians in Corinth had written they might have said something like, “We’re so strong in our faith that we don’t need to fit in with the world by eating meat offered to idols, but those weak Christians keep falling into that same trap and participate in the ways of the world.” Strength in the Christian life is not being the only correct follower of Christ; strength is loving and trusting God enough to let Him deal with other people. Strength comes from knowing our weaknesses, sins, and imperfections and letting God take care of them, not in making others watch out for us. My faith is no longer shattered when someone who claims the name of Christ does something I think is wrong. I live with the truth that I am imperfect in my life and in my knowledge of God and while I believe that my theology and my practice is right, I understand that I can be wrong, so I can let God deal with that other person instead of forcing them to conform to my understanding of God’s word.
Lord, I come before You as Your imperfect child. Where I’m right, help me to show that to others with Your grace and Love. Where I’m wrong, teach me Your way gently. Let me show Your grace to others/
Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved