Thursday, March 22, 2012
Figure out how to serve God just as you are!
1Cor. 7:17 ¶ However that may be, let each of you lead the life that the Lord has assigned, to which God called you. This is my rule in all the churches.
1Cor. 7:18 Was anyone at the time of his call already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision. Was anyone at the time of his call uncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision.
1Cor. 7:19 Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing; but obeying the commandments of God is everything.
1Cor. 7:20 Let each of you remain in the condition in which you were called.
1Cor. 7:21 ¶ Were you a slave when called? Do not be concerned about it. Even if you can gain your freedom, make use of your present condition now more than ever.
1Cor. 7:22 For whoever was called in the Lord as a slave is a freed person belonging to the Lord, just as whoever was free when called is a slave of Christ.
1Cor. 7:23 You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of human masters.
1Cor. 7:24 In whatever condition you were called, brothers and sisters, there remain with God.
Paul is writing to the church in Corinth and this section becomes a reflection of Galatians 3:28 where he says that in the kingdom of God human barriers (such as Jew, Greek, Slave, Free, Male & female) are broken down. Now, he is expounding on this same concept. Those who were circumcised were the Jews, those who were not, were Greek. He is telling them that they are not to try to become someone else. They were created to be God's people, whether they were Jews or Greek. If you were born a slave, you can serve God wholeheartedly as a slave. Ultimately, the condition in which you found yourself when you were called, you can stay there. You don't have to become anything else for God, but rather, remain where you are so that God can use you as kingdom people in that very place.
So often we would like to change our circumstances. We look at others and wish we could trade places with them, and the "if only" syndrome begins to set in. But this is not the way that God sees our circumstances. God sees us as workers in his kingdom here on earth. All of this language from Paul is kingdom language. He is trying to help people understand that the kingdom of God is a new culture and that it supersedes the culture of the world. In God's kingdom citizenship has nothing to do with circumcision, or uncircumcision. The laws of God are written on the hearts of men and women! In God's kingdom we are all free, so even if you are not free in the human world, you are free within your heart because you have Christ.
I have to recognize that God has placed me where I am and has allowed situations and circumstances in my life to form me for his use in the kingdom. I shouldn't try to be anyone else, or go anyplace else, but rather, I need to relax and enjoy the conditions in my life so that God can use me. There is no one else in this world who will have experienced the same experiences or walked the same path that I have walked, and therefore, my unique life must be dedicated to him -- in its very uniqueness.
The Church must also allow space for serving in uniqueness. Too often we have created a church culture (as opposed to a kingdom culture) and we expect people to conform. We struggle with allowing people to "remain in their condition" because we want to fix them all up and make them all look like us! That's what was happening in the first century, and we seem to continue to repeat ourselves. God has given us great freedom to express ourselves in the kingdom by being who he created us to be. The result is a beautiful bouquet, creating a fragrant offering, when we all are comfortable with who we are, not conforming, but rather, in our diversity loving and serving him together in the kingdom. Let's figure out how to serve God, just as we are.
Lord, thank you for your creative abilities to make us all so unique. I offer who I am to you this day. Amen.