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Love Builds Up


Hands forming a heart sign

Sunday’s epistle lesson is Paul’s advice regarding “meat sacrificed to idols” (1 Corinthians 8:1-13). Now, there’s a topic that occupies our mind! I doubt many of you give much thought to this issue that so concerned the Corinthian followers of the Christ, but for them, it was a big deal.

Meat was not that common in the ancient world.

It was very expensive, and one of the few places where one could obtain meat was at the temples following sacrifices. In fact, archaeological evidence suggests that Corinthian temples like the Asklepion, dedicated to Asclepius the god of healing, had dining rooms within the temple. As part of the temple sacrifices, one would sit and eat a meal. Moreover, the agora (marketplace) was right next to the temple, so leftover meat could be sold.

Paul quotes the Corinthian arguments – “they have knowledge,” that is, they know that “no idol really exists” and “there is no God but one.” Therefore, eating meat sacrificed to idols does not matter since “food will not bring us close to God.” Paul agrees with their theological point – meat offered to idols is just meat. However, Paul wants his readers to understand that the issue is not theological but pastoral. He asks those who are “strong” to take consideration for the “weak.” How will my knowledge and freedom impact someone who has moral difficulties with eating meat?

Suppose for a moment, that the knowledge we are considering is not about meat, but politics.  On this issue, we all seem to know more than the other person, and we can easily look down on someone else as uniformed, ignorant, or plain dumb. As a result, we “fact-check” one another rather than truly listening. As we enter the “red meat” season of electoral politics, we need to hear Paul’s words again: “knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.” Perhaps we need less fact-checking and name-calling, and a little more love. I pray that love wins the day.

Jerry+


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