18–24 June 2017.
Sometimes we may think that the Jews really have things easy. They have 613 laws that clearly tell them how to live: 248 laws telling what they should do, and 365 laws telling them what not to do.
But life for us Christians is different. Because of the grace of Christ we are freed from the law. Instead Christ teaches us that in everything we do we must love God and love others. And in John 13:34 Christ gives us a new command: “A new commandment I give unto you: That you love one another; as I have loved you.”
In principle, it’s great news that we are freed from the law! But in practice, it makes things quite difficult. That’s because now in everything we do God wants us to stop, think, and make a decision that maximizes love. On the one hand, that’s difficult because it means we have to think about all our actions and constantly evaluate and re-evaluate what is best. On the other hand, that’s also hard because even when we know what the right decision will be we often prefer not to do it. We often prefer to work against love, and to maximize our own benefits rather than build up others.
But in 1 Corinthians 10 Paul reminds us of this special Christian calling and responsibility. Yes, as Christians “all things are lawful” to us, but that doesn’t mean all things are good for us. There is no law against eating junk food every day, but that doesn’t mean we should do it. In the same way there are many, many actions and experiences that destroy our lives and leave us worse off than before. And yes “all things are lawful,” but that doesn’t mean that we should do them. It’s not illegal to irritate your coworkers and say nasty things about them. But such behaviour doesn’t build up love, and so for us Christians we should refuse to act that way even though it is allowed.
As Paul reminds us, Christ’s expectation of us is that we will serve love in everything we do. That means that in each new context and in each new day we need to ask ourselves: “What can I do in this situation to maximize love and to make life better for those around me?” Because when we do that, we really will be living the way that Christ wants us to live, and making things better not only for ourselves but for everyone around us.
Pastor Stephen Lakkis