Looking for spiritual refreshment? God Pause email devotions are short, meaningful reflections on the following Sunday's lessons and gospel delivered directly to your email box. By Sunday, you'll be ready for an extra meaningful worship experience. 

Our devotion writers are Luther Seminary alumni. Their reflections are a gift to you and to the church.


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

What's not to like about a bargain? In Corinth people knew about good deals at the meat counter. It was a fine cut and tasty meat, but it was also meat that had been used in the worship of Apollo. Could good Christians buy and eat, or was it a compromise of the faith? They looked to St. Paul for advice.

Paul gave his rabbinic answer: "There is this, but then there is that!" Idols don't really exist, but on the other hand, some of our folks think eating meat once offered to Apollo gives the wrong impression. Paul urges them to be careful. Don't be the cause for someone to fall away and don't wound the conscience of another, a dramatic metaphor to ponder.

One on one, it's easy to avoid offense by not eating. But as a matter of policy for a whole community, this dilemma can be difficult. Some folks are overly sensitive, or use the threat of their disapproval as a way to control. On the other hand, folks can become impatient, considering themselves sophisticated and superior. Paul offers a constructive pattern for such issues; be sensitive, not arrogant, and always work for a compassionate consensus.

So we learn that we must balance our Christian freedom against the needs of those we serve: that's part of being in community. The rule of love is not intended to inhibit us. It is intended to enrich and enhance human life for each of us and for those around us.

Help us be clear and unambiguous witnesses to our God, and help us navigate through the complicated issues of living responsibly in community. Amen.

Wendell Debner
Director Emeritus, Doctor of Ministry Program, Luther Seminary
Bachelor of Divinity , 1966

1 Corinthians 8:1-13 (NRSV)

1 Now concerning food sacrificed to idols: we know that "all of us possess knowledge." Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.
2 Anyone who claims to know something does not yet have the necessary knowledge;
3 but anyone who loves God is known by him.
4 Hence, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that "no idol in the world really exists," and that "there is no God but one."
5 Indeed, even though there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as in fact there are many gods and many lords—
6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.
7 It is not everyone, however, who has this knowledge. Since some have become so accustomed to idols until now, they still think of the food they eat as food offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled.
8 "Food will not bring us close to God." We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do.
9 But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.
10 For if others see you, who possess knowledge, eating in the temple of an idol, might they not, since their conscience is weak, be encouraged to the point of eating food sacrificed to idols?
11 So by your knowledge those weak believers for whom Christ died are destroyed.
12 But when you thus sin against members of your family, and wound their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ.
13 Therefore, if food is a cause of their falling, I will never eat meat, so that I may not cause one of them to fall.

This God Pause daily devotion is brought to you by the alumni of Luther Seminary.