International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday July 13, 2014
Purpose: To understand that we abuse our freedom as Christians if our actions jeopardize the faith of other believers
Bible Lesson: 1 Corinthians 8:1-13
1 Corinthians 8:1-13 (CEB)
(1)Now concerning meat that has been sacrificed to a false god: We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge makes people arrogant, but love builds people up. (2) If anyone thinks they know something, they don’t yet know as much as they should know. (3) But if someone loves God, then they are known by God.
(4) So concerning the actual food involved in these sacrifices to false gods, we know that a false god isn’t anything in this world, and that there is no God except for the one God.(5) Granted, there are so-called "gods," in heaven and on the earth, as there are many gods and many lords. 6 However, for us believers, there is one God the Father. All things come from him, and we belong to him. And there is one Lord Jesus Christ. All things exist through him, and we live through him.
(7)But not everybody knows this. Some are eating this food as though it really is food sacrificed to a real idol, because they were used to idol worship until now. Their conscience is weak because it has been damaged. (8) Food won’t bring us close to God. We’re not missing out if we don’t eat, and we don’t have any advantage if we do eat. (9) But watch out or else this freedom of yours might be a problem for those who are weak. (10) Suppose someone sees you (the person who has knowledge) eating in an idol’s temple. Won’t the person with a weak conscience be encouraged to eat the meat sacrificed to false gods? (11) The weak brother or sister for whom Christ died is destroyed by your knowledge. (12) You sin against Christ if you sin against your brothers and sisters and hurt their weak consciences this way. (13) This is why, if food causes the downfall of my brother or sister, I won’t eat meat ever again, or else I may cause my brother or sister to fall.
My Thoughts by Burgess Walter
It is impossible to understand Paul’s response to the Corinthians without understanding life in Corinth. Corinth was a port city and home to many different types of religions. The most prominent was pagan and idol worship. Corinth had over two dozen different shrines and altars devoted to different gods and idols.
These different shrines or temples were often a social gathering place. Most of them offered an area where meals and drinks could be served. In fact they were often the best places to entertain, or to be entertained in the city. Not unlike a local Elks lodge or other fraternal organization. After a sacrifice was made to a god or idol, the rest of the meat would be served to guests, for a nice meal. Early Christian businessmen or merchants in Corinth would often use these places like we would use country clubs, as a place to entertain and get a great meal. It was often the place where deals were closed, and agreements made.
Remember, Paul is responding to letter or a report from Chloe, a member of the Corinthian church. No doubt Chloe raised the question, was it okay to eat in these places and to enjoy the meat that had been offered first as a sacrifice to an idol or pagan god?
Paul’s response was “it is not about the meat, but rather about love.” Putting it another way, Paul says it is not about being right, but about maintaining a relationship with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
I suppose there is at least one of these individuals in every church, the one that knows the scriptures better, and has more knowledge, and has studied more than the bulk of the congregation. Paul says, “Knowledge makes people arrogant, but love builds people up.”
Paul goes on to explain that it is not what we eat that determines our closeness to God. Whether we eat or not or what we eat has no relevance as far as our relationship with God goes. However, we should be very much aware of what we eat and where we eat may have an influence on those within our congregation or faith community. While it may be okay for those with a good understanding of what being a Christian means, it could very well be misunderstood by a weaker or new individual in the faith. So, while we have the freedom, should we destroy a relationship over being right?
There are times when being right has to take a backseat to love. Love trumps right when it comes to relationships within our circle of fellow Christians and family.