Scripture: 1st Corinthians 7:29-31
Key Verse(s): For the present form of this world is passing away. (v. 31b)
Observation: Whenever we read any of Paul’s letters to communities of faith we must remember that Paul is responding to specific issues or questions and we are not privileged to the letters sent from the communities to Paul. As a result, we are not certain of what precipitated Paul’s response in our current reading. One commentator identifies the overall theme of this chapter is “remain as you are.” (v. 20) Paul says that the time is short; there is no time to waste. The things of this world are temporary and have already begun to pass away. Paul continues to give his judgement (opinion) as “one who the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy.” (v. 25) Verses 29b-31a presents a series of instructions based on Paul’s belief that the Day of Judgment is coming sooner than later. The focus then is not on the specific relationships, institutions, and activities but rather the focus is on the appropriate attitude or stance for faithful living with Jesus’ return in view.
Analysis: We know that Jesus’ return was not as imminent as Paul believed. Yet, we should still read his letter to the Corinthians with the same urgency. We are reminded that our lives are compressed into a limited span of life, and time can seem very short, especially as we grow older. Although we may not expect Jesus’ return as soon as Paul did, we still recognize that God’s kingdom is breaking forth in this world. Paul’s teaching reminds us that our expectation of God’s in-breaking kingdom ought to have an urgency to it that puts all other aspects of our lives into their proper perspective. As Paul writes in Galatians 3:27-28, all duality is eliminated in Christ. We know that eternity begins when we are reborn in Christ even as we continue to live in anticipation of his return. We are marked by baptism as being dead to this world. In light of this understanding, the key point is not when the end is coming but that we belong completely to God. We are to live in complete obedience to God and therefore to be in the world but not of it, or in the world as though not. We live knowing that there is no time to waste.
Prayer: Thank you Lord for speaking to us through Paul. We recognize your call on our lives and ask you God the Holy Spirit to empower us to live in this world as though we were not. Lord, remind us of your claim on us. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.