Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Gospel for Your Bad (or Good) Situation

Here's what I read today from 1 Corinthians 7.   I found this passage both interesting and instructive.

"Only let each person lead the life the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him.... Each one should remain in the situation he was in when God called him.  Were you a slave when you were called?   Don't let it trouble you - although if you can gain your freedom, do so.  For he who was a slave when he was called by the Lord is the Lord's freedman; similarly he who was a free man when he was called is Christ's slave.   You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.  Brothers, each man, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation God called him to."  

 (1 Cor 7:17, 20-24)

Here's what this passage impressed on me - your station in life isn't the most important thing.  Whether you're rich or poor doesn't matter a whole lot.   Whether you're part of the intellectual elite or part of the blue collar crew doesn't mean that much.   It isn't the measure of your worth - it's just not that important.   

This is not only counter cultural, it seems unnatural to think this way.   Most of us are always looking for ways to distinguish ourselves from others, to favorably compare ourselves, to keep score.   Paul says no - don't think this way.   Certainly, if you can improve your standing... get a higher paying job... move to a better neighborhood... better your life in any way, by all means do it.   But don't let it dominate your focus or lose peace over your situation - it's not the sum of your life in God.   

In fact, Paul instructs us on how to think about this by bringing the gospel mindset into view.  Paul addresses the slave and reminds him that in Christ, he is free regardless of his social standing.  Paul reminds the free man that he is called to be a slave for Christ.   What matters is our standing before God - we need to remember that we're called by God and for Him.  

If you're stuck in a bad situation - unsatisfying job, unreasonable boss, too much travel, too little pay - it's easy to get frustrated and allow this "bad" situation dominate the landscape of our minds.   Paul's instruction to us is to get perspective - the kind with God in view.   Let the good news of what Christ has done for us dominate our thoughts and it'll bring our hearts in line with the truth.

What do you think about this?   Perhaps I'm not reading this right - if so, please let me know.


Ted M. Gossard said...

Good thoughts. I do appreciate the people who for the gospel have actually moved into bad neighborhoods, at least for a time, to be a witness.

I do think your point here is so key and so good. We need to think in terms of the gospel, not of the bottom line. Though of course it's not wrong to make more money, and better our conditions. I just say on the bettering our conditions part, we need to be careful. But then again, it's not wrong to have a lovely and even new house, in a wealthy neighborhood. I'm not saying that. So one must be careful there as well! Always something between all of us and God. Some of the most beautiful saints I know, live in some of the most beautiful homes and nice neighborhoods.

Every Square Inch said...

Ted - it's so easy to make our own expectations and goals the center of our joy. God offers a better way, doesn't He?