Monday, February 09, 2009

Feb. 1 Sermon, "To Eat or Not to Eat, Is that the Question?"

Sorry no ipod today. I messed up. But here are notes for your edification.

Texts: Psalm and 1 Corinthians

Speak about going home sophomore year.
Interesting class on the hist of Islamic middle east
Encounter with

A little learning is a dangerous thing. Sophomore: wise fool.

Don’t care what you know till they know that you care

Freedom of being known. Family knows us as we really are. Facebook, friend of mine had a video of her dad dancing around like a fool to the “King of the Hill” theme song. Freedom of being yourself when you are known for who you are.

For Paul the definitive knowing is God’s knowing of us, which, if love for God is properly in place (cf. Deut 6:5), will result in our being known, in our receiving God’s love in a way that not only claims us for God but also engages us in love toward others (cf. 13:9, 12).

Although the word does not appear in this context, grace is at issue here. It is not what believers know that sets them right with God and gives them to one another. The flow never runs that way for Paul. God’s freely given, unmerited love claims the believers and establishes them. It is a delicate matter in Paul’s understanding. One does not come to know God as many Greeks had assumed. Rather, one is known by God (Gal 4:9).

All proper knowing proceeds from God and acknowledges that God’s knowing precedes and grounds what believers know. God’s knowing establishes, constitutes (cf. Exod 33:12, 17) believers, who then must caution themselves that their knowing is derivative and that what they know should function as a guide to love rather than as an index of status and rank.

Love is not just a sentiment, not just a feeling, not merely a sort of disposition. Love works; it acts; it does things; and the chief thing it does is to edify, build up, cause growth in each of the persons who engages in it and who is engaged by it.

Love transforms circumstances and people. The loved one is never again the same; the one who loves is never again the same. Love is thus a transaction but not a bartering; it is not susceptible to bargaining. Love, once under way, takes on a life of its own; like the grace on which it is built, it surprises. Love restores, love enlarges, and love makes whole. Most often that is what happens with love. But love is not a magic wand; love can be spurned and rejected; and sometimes love elicits its nearest of kin, hatred.

an arrogance which idolizes one’s own perspective on the world.
Today that arrogance is on display regarding the interactions of the Corinthians around the decision to eat meat. Though Paul is inclined to agree with the opinion of those who eat meat sacrificed to idols, he thoroughly disapproves of their attitude. So instead of taking the opportunity to take the side of the “leanrned,” he reprimands them. He hones them. Tries to give them the humility that comes with true knowledge.
In his letter Paul resorted to the Corinthians’ own language about the strong and the weak, turning it on its head, saying that those who presumed themselves strong in fact revealed themselves to be weak, reminding them that God chose the weak and the foolish to shame the strong and wise. He Went on to criticize the Corinthians for their opinionated quarrelsomeness, their slippery morality, their unwarranted boasting. They exasperated him by turning the Lord’s Supper into a series of private parties at which some people gorged themselves and became drunk while others got nothing to eat.
And yet it was to these people, to this divisive and anxious fellowship, that Paul wrote one of the most eloquent reflections on what love is, and what it is not. Paul understood that in Corinth the spiritual pride of comprehension had supplanted the leadership of love.

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