Reading Through The Bible in 2011, Part 46
What I Read Today: I Corinthians 5-6.
What Stood Out About What I Read Today: 1 Corinthians 5: 9-11, “I wrote you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people. In no way did I mean the immoral people of this world, or the greedy and swindlers and idolaters, since you would then have to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who calls himself a Christian who is sexually immoral, or greedy, or an idolater, or verbally abusive, or a drunkard, or a swindler. Do not even eat with such a person.”
And, 1 Corinthians 6: 9-11, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! The sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, passive homosexual partners, practicing homosexuals, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, the verbally abusive, and swindlers will not inherit the kingdom of God. Some of you once lived this way. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
Random Thoughts About What I Read:
I was fresh off my state-school football-factory campus. I’d finished my undergraduate work and a few days later I was headed off to seminary. Most of my college life was living in the fraternity house, and there were all types of shenanigans that went on during my three years of residency in that house (I’m using the word “shenanigans” as a polite word for “sin”).
Now, I’d been on my high school campus and there were some milder forms of shenanigans in that world. So, even though I had become active in the student ministry at my church, I was not shielded from the shenanigans.
So, my most meaningful friendships were with people who enjoyed wine (often to excess), women (often to excess) and song (often to excess). Never a dull moment. Easily likeable people who I have lots of fond memories with (it wasn’t all wine, women and song…that was generally limited to Thursday at around 9PM until Sunday morning around 4AM–so the majority was pretty normal life together). And they were interesting people, too. In the prime of life. With big hopes and dreams and plans. I liked them. No. Truth be told. I loved those guys.
I was always around and in the mix, even if my beliefs were markedly different.
So, when I drove to seminary and was in another dorm-style life set-up. A bunch of single guys and I had high expectations of deep friendships with interesting and fun people to spend my grad school years with.
Not so much.
In fact, there were really only two guys that were interesting and fun. One was a skateboarder from California who had just graduated from university and the other was from Canada and he was a free-spirit, too. Granted, it was grad school so everybody was a little older and a little more mature, but still. So, me and the Canadian and the Californian hung out.
And we met George.
George had been to a private, evangelical school where he attended kindergarten, elementary school, middle school and high school. From there, he attended one of the most conservative Bible colleges in America, known for even teaching their students to refer to God in prayer with “Thee” and “Thou.” For the better part of his 22 years of age he was in formal education with nothing but Christians.
And, here he was at a conservative, private seminary.
He noticed that me and the Californian and the Canadian were often headed out to movies or to play basketball at the park across the street or even some nights to just hit some Dallas restaurants and night clubs. We were single. It was just fun.
One particular Friday night we were headed out to whatever particular nightclub was big with young singles at that time. George asked if he could come with us. I think he viewed it as a field trip of sorts. We certainly felt like we were taking him on one.
And it was ON that night in Dallas.
The band was loud and heavy and good.
I saw a drug deal go down in the bathroom.
The ladies were pretty and the beverages were cold.
A good time was had by the Alabamian and the Canadian and the Californian.
When we got back into the car, we asked George what he thought of the first time he’d ever used his ID to get into anywhere.
“I can’t believe how many people smoked,” was his answer.
We were stunned.
We expected him to be shocked by the lifestyle of the unsaved. We didn’t know he wouldn’t be able to even get past the least concerning of the behaviors to see the others.
And that “Christian bubble” exists, man. In spades. My Tribe tends to distance from that stuff. Granted, in many cases, family folks don’t participate in all that night life, but we do it in other ways. We fear the influences of culture on our kids, so we hover over them like helicopters.
We judge the behavior of people who don’t follow Christ on our mores…and that isn’t fair. We judge their lives as somehow inferior and worthy of our scorn.
We tend to hyper-involve ourselves in our own safe little Christian bubble and we’re at church so often and involed in church stuff so much that we no longer have any contact with non-believers.
And Paul was pretty stern about the Christian bubble in this section. In verse 9, he makes a point to say that, in his last letter, he didn’t want them to associate with immoral people. They took that to mean avoid them at all costs.
So, here he clarifies it. He said to avoid the world is a bad thing in verse 10. he assumed that you’d be out and about in the world. Not necessarily hitting the hot spots of your hometown, but surely at the PTA meetings, or at the soccer fields (anyone ever asked why we have sports programs for Christian kids only? Ugh), in the office or even in our social groups. We were never supposed to have this bubble–which South Park once portrayed some Christian kids who came to public school in an extra large hamster ball (really funny, BTW)–because Christ Himself was out and about most of the time.
You were supposed to avoid the “so-called” brother who was engaged in that behavior. There was a church discipline set aside for that person who was engaged in openly sinful behavior without any real desire to change. The idea is that you would remove them from fellowship until they’d been restored.
As an aside, chapter 6 verse 9, these verses are often interpreted to mean that those who practice these things aren’t saved. Granted it’s a tough passage with a lot of differing views, but one thing that the passage seems to say is the idea of an inheritance within that Kingdom. You are still a son even if your inheritance is less. The issue of eternal security and rewards certainly fit this interpretation…and Paul taught in other places that there would be varying degrees of inheritance among believers, too.
And, given the context, Paul even points out that they WERE like this in the past and certainly understood that the Corinthian behaviors weren’t expected to be the norm in their church. They’d been set apart in their salvation.
I’ll be talking more about this in the next couple of entries, but Paul is stressing that you have to make wise choices given that all the things God has given us are certainly good, but can be misused.
But what I’m thinking of by way of application today is two-fold:
First, are there areas of our lives in which we are in the “Christian bubble” and what steps can we take to avoid this? Do I even have any non-Christian friends that I enjoy spending time with who aren’t “evangelistic targets?”
Second, are there areas of sin in our camp where we judge outsiders more harshly than those inside our camp? What attitudes do I hold toward both with regard to sin that might need to be modified?
Heavy, hard stuff today, that’s for sure.
(Tomorrow’s reading: 1 Corinthians 7)