Does being a Christian mean I have more freedom, or less?

16 05 2010

This quarter I am taking a class on 1 Corinthians – Paul’s theologically-loaded letter to the Christian community living in Corinth. There are a number of themes that run throughout the letter, but there is one that has particularly stood out to me. Here’s the path:

Chapter 6

The Story: Paul has heard that the people of the church have grievances against one another, and are taking one another to court before the non-Christians.

Paul’s Response: “Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded?”

Chapter 7

The Story: The Corinthians apparently have questions about marriage and divorce. What should happen if a believer is married to a non-believer? Given the situation, it is likely the believer would have become a Christian after they were married. So, should the Christian stay in the relationship or get out of it?

Paul’s Response: If someone has a spouse who is an non-believer, and he/she consents to live with you, then don’t divorce them. On the other hand, if the non-believing spouse wants to separate, let it be so. In other words, the Christian spouse ought to give up the right to decide; it’s whatever the non-believing spouse decides.

Chapter 8

The Story: The question here revolves around the eating of food sacrificed to idols. Since, they know that no idol really exists (because there is only one God), shouldn’t they be able to eat the food?

Paul’s Response: It doesn’t matter whether or not you eat food sacrificed to an idol. (“We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do.”) But… there are some that don’t have the same knowledge you do, so your eating of the meat may cause them to stumble. So, even though you have every right to eat the meat, don’t do it.

Chapter 9

The Story: Apparently the Corinthians have raised questions about Paul’s authority and legitimacy as an apostle, and whether or not he should receive support.

Paul’s Response: I am an apostle – especially to YOU. …and I have every right to receive my food, drink, and support from you. But, I have not made use of any of these rights.

Chapter 10

The Story: The people of Corinth have an ‘over-realized eschatology.’ That is, they think they are already living in ‘the age to come’ and believe they are, therefore, super-spiritual. For that reason they believe they are above ‘fleshly’ laws. One of their mottos seems to be “All things are lawful.”

Paul’s Response: “‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things are beneficial. ‘All things are lawful,’ but not al things build up.” In other words, they may have the right to do this and that, but those things are not beneficial and they don’t build up – and that’s what is really important.

So, what’s this pattern that runs throughout Paul’s letter to the Corinthians? It seems to be the idea that the follower of Jesus ought to consistently give up his or her rights and freedoms for the benefit and building up of others.

So… does being a Christian mean I have more freedom, or less?

What do you think?

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2 responses

20 05 2010
Phil Strahm

More freedom.
The more you grow in your faith the less desires you have to do negative or neutral activities and you then begin to freely show/spread love. You are freed from things that weigh you down.

Thoughts?

23 05 2010
nate

Less… wait, More. Trick Question. Didn’t realize you were in colorado. Next time you drive through indiana though- give me a shout out.
P.S.- So how many years have you been in school now? 🙂

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