Status – position, prestige, reputation, and standing – was highly sought out in Corinth. When we think about it, times have not changed much in 2021.
Here are some examples.
— There are men, who will fight over being “disrespected.”
— Local and national politicians spend boatloads of money and expend large amounts of energy to be governmental leaders.
— People have closets full of clothes and dress to impress.
— Women and people of color seek equal rights.
— Poor and disenfranchised people organize for equal opportunities.
There are significant distinctions between striving for equal rights and having a closet full of shoes. The point I am making is that both involve the status of individuals.
Paul’s Message to Status Seekers
Rufus Moseley was acquainted with President Teddy Roosevelt. He was a distinguished professor in the United States and Europe. He wrote a weekly article for a newspaper in Macon Georgia.
Moseley’s greatest accomplishment was friendship with Jesus Christ. He joyfully exchanged earthly status for a profound relationship with Jesus.
Moseley understood Paul’s logic to the church.
— 1 Corinthians 7.17-20 – However that may be, let each of you lead the life that the Lord has assigned, to which God called you. This is my rule in all the churches.
Was anyone at the time of his call already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision. Was anyone at the time of his call uncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision.
Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing; but obeying the commandments of God is everything. 20 Let each of you remain in the condition in which you were called.
The reason why Paul could say, “let each of you lead the life that the Lord has assigned, to which God called you,” is that friendship with Jesus is more important than earthly recognition or privilege.
Jesus was opposed and crucified by educated, powerful, and high-status people. His closest followers were common people with a scattering of outcasts.
In today’s YouTube video, Rudy Ross talks about the importance of circumcision as a sign of the covenant between God and the Jewish people.
Rudy also talks about why baptism replaced circumcision as the symbol of our covenant relationship with God.
Slaves and Freedmen
It is estimated that one-third of the Roman Empire consisted of slaves. Some have remarked that the Empire couldn’t function without slaves.
Many slaves had a better life than “freedmen,” a term that referred to slaves who had obtained freedom.
Most slaves came from conquered territories. Slaves that worked in the fields or mines experienced the same dire circumstances as slaves in American history.
Other slaves operated as business agents and educators.
When the head of a household converted to Christianity, the entire household followed suit. This included the wife, children, and slaves.
Paul wrote a similar message to the slaves that he did to people of Jewish descent.
— 1 Corinthians 7.21-24 – Were you a slave when called? Do not be concerned about it. Even if you can gain your freedom, make use of your present condition now more than ever.
For whoever was called in the Lord as a slave is a freed person belonging to the Lord, just as whoever was free when called is a slave of Christ.
You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of human masters.
In whatever condition you were called, brothers and sisters, there remain with God.
Paul’s words have been used by Communists to label Christianity as the “opiate of the people.” People who take exception to Paul’s message don’t understand him.
A central verse that explains Paul’s position is Galatians 3.28.
“There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.”
To a follower of Jesus, status does not matter. What matters is our union with Jesus and each other.
Prayer for Ukraine
The passage in today’s prayer time for Ukraine was Ephesians 5. This chapter in Ephesians connects with Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians.
We can use Paul’s words to pray for ourselves, the church we attend, and Christians in Russia, Ukraine, Europe, and America.
— Ephesians 5.1-2 – Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
We imitate God, not by striving for reputation, power, wealth, and status. We imitate God by living in the same self-giving love like Jesus.
Prayer: Dear God, please help the people mentioned above to imitate you and your loving, self-sacrificing love.
— Ephesians 5.18 – Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit.
Prayer: Dear God, please fill me, my church leaders, and church leaders in this time of war with your Spirit. May we all be activated, captivated, and motivated by your Holy Spirit.
Paul had it right. It is infinitely better to imitate God than any human.
Christ set the standard. Rather than demand his rights, he lived in self-sacrificing love.
As we are filled with the Holy Spirit, he will enable us to live a Jesus-kind-of-life.
Please check out the YouTube video that Rudy Ross and I record. Rudy has insights that will add to your understanding of this passage.
Please email your prayer requests to firstname.lastname@example.org or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.