Paul discusses consuming meat sacrificed to idols from two perspectives: knowledge and love. This issue concerned the Christians in Corinth in particular, but Paul’s guidance deals with more than food. His message reveals his hopes for Christian care and concern within community.
Paul acknowledges that many believers know idols do not exist. However, some people in Corinth, even some believers, may consider food sacrificed to an idol as sacred. This could raise issues in the community as to whether eating this food is idolatrous. Paul tells the people in Corinth that knowledge is not bad—in fact, knowledge helps them make moral decisions, like knowing they can eat this meat.
In this week’s passage from Deuteronomy, we learned that God grants more authority to some voices than others. Paul teaches that love holds more authority than knowledge in Christian communities. It is good to be knowledgeable, but it is better to love others—especially if knowledge may cause them to stumble in their faith.
Paul tells us to err on the side of love. Though he does not fully develop this point until later in the letter, Paul mentions love in the first sentence of the section—even before explaining his stance on the issue at hand. Paul calls for the kind of love that builds communities, love for those with whom we share life and faith. Paul’s deep commitment to supporting others in their faith brings him to state boldly that he will never eat meat again if it makes someone stumble in his or her faith.
It is not only what we know that leads us to Christ. How we love and support one another helps us live well and leads others to God.
Lord, make me aware of my actions so that I do not become a stumbling block to anyone’s faith in you. Amen.
This week’s readings center on God’s authority. In Deuteronomy God promises to raise up a prophet to guide the people, and God warns the people not to listen to voices that do not speak for God. The psalmist overflows with praise for God’s great works. God is powerful and awesome, yet gracious and merciful also. Paul instructs the Corinthians to place the rights of others before their own rights. A person’s conscience may allow him or her to exercise freedom in Christ; however, with this freedom comes responsibility. We must surrender our own rights, if necessary, for the good of others. In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus shows his power over the forces of darkness: even the unclean spirits recognize and obey him.
• Read Deuteronomy 18:15-20. To whom or to what setting do you turn when you yearn to hear God’s voice?
• Read Psalm 111. How willing are to you to immerse yourself in life? in your worship setting? What causes you to simply dip your toe in? What would help you make a fuller commitment?
• Read 1 Corinthians 8:1-13. When have you been conscious of another’s limitation in some area and intentionally chosen to avoid a certain behavior?
• Read Mark 1:21-28. Jesus calls James and John from their fishing nets. He takes them as they are exactly where they are. Where have you sensed a call from God? How did that call change your vocation or avocation?
Respond by posting a prayer.
Whitney Simpson offers a wide-open doorway into embodied practice and awakens us to the long-held wisdom of our tradition that our bodies are sacred places where God meets us and dwells. Fully Human, Fully Divine is a true Christmas gift!”
Click here to learn more about our newest Advent book and eCourse.