Text study on 1 Corinthians 8:1-13
Lectionary text for Jan. 29, 2012
Once a month I am blessed to share a meal with people in my neighborhood. Hearty shepherd’s pie teaming with veggies and a crispy crust of mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese baked with so many kinds of cheese, and always a sweet treat, makes our feast.
Some dinners go by without a hitch, food is ready, people are fed and everyone heads home with leftovers.
Most dinners do not go quite this smoothly.
Occasionally there is a problem as we negotiate food allergies or try to provide for those who don’t eat certain foods.
At some dinners we have fallen into old habits and segregated ourselves by race at different tables.
Not everyone who comes to eat is clean and sober.
Not everyone who comes to serve understands that this dinner is for building up the kingdom of God.
Those nights are hard and painful and leave us all wondering why we come. It is tempting to sit down and establish more rules and regulations in order that this chaos will not creep into dinner ever again.
At times like this, the early church creeps back into my mind; a gathering of people who struggled with what it meant to be a community and how they were going to provide for one another and yet not offend those around them with different beliefs.
Paul tells us, “knowledge puffs up, but love builds up,” and reminds them and us that, instead of thinking our particular way of doing something is best, our focus should lie in how we see and share the love of God with each other.
When we feed our need to be in control, we break down the relationships that are gifts from God. We put ourselves in the place of God who has all knowledge in love.
Love is how we are built. Our God, who creates out of love and sends Jesus out of love and sustains us with the Spirit through love, knows us and loves us.
And what blows me away at every dinner is how God is more present on the nights when the difficulties arise. God knows us well enough to provide for us in the face of our own failings.
God brings God’s own order, God’s own prophets, God’s own power over the disagreements and in this way we are all fed and sent out with enough to share.
- How do you encounter God in the unexpected and challenging events of life?
- How do we wrest God’s control away with rules and regulations in the church?
- In what ways can we witness to God’s unexpected and abundant grace even in times of chaos and uncertainty?
Melissa Pohlman is pastor of Christ English Lutheran Church in Minneapolis. She knew growing up that the only way she was ever going to behave in church was if she sat up front. So she became a pastor. Currently she is on sabbatical writing poetry and giving it back to the people who inspire it.