Hi! Welcome to Redeem the Commute. I’m Ryan, your host for the Daily Challenge. Today’s Tuesday; it’s the day we explore in the Bible the topic that we introduced yesterday. We’re in a series called, “Reset” right now, looking at how deciding to follow Jesus resets some really important areas of our lives. We’ve looked at several and this week we’re looking at how it resets our view of food and our body.
We’re going to try to understand it using some of the words that Paul wrote to the church at Corinth. The letter is called 1 Corinthians. He wrote the following when trying to relate how we view our bodies in respect to food and how we view our bodies with respect to sexuality. Here it goes, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be dominated by anything. Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.
The very beginning of what Paul had to say there was actually a quotation, it’s kind of hard to tell when I’m just reading it out loud, but if you’d seen it in print you’d see that, at least our modern translations of the Bible mark that out as a quotation. Paul was quoting a very common saying in his culture, “All things are lawful for me.” You can imagine how that was used. People had very similar attitudes to people today, “You know what, anything goes.” “Do what feels right.”
Paul was using food as an example in this passage of how we view our bodies. Then, he applied it later on to sexuality. We’re going to look at that next week. It’s a little easier to talk about food and our bodies. It’s a little less emotionally charged. We can see some of the same principles at work.
Ever since the 60s in particular, western culture has been very permissive. Simply said, “You can do pretty much anything that feels good to you.” It’s almost unlimited, but most of us, if we really think about it, do want to see some limits. We’ll say, “You know what, do what feels good, do what you think is right as long as you don’t hurt someone else.” Or, “As long as you’re not an elected official.” Or, “As long as it doesn’t involve children.” You can go on. We want things to be as unlimited as possible in our culture, but generally, we recognize that it can’t be completely unlimited. There’s got to be some limit that, even if something feels good, we need to stop.
The reason that Paul talks about this is it seems that the Christians in the city of Corinth were very much adopting the same, “All things are lawful for me” as their own. As Christians they knew that they had been saved by grace alone, not through anything they’d done or not done, but simply because God loved them and wanted a relationship with them. They understood the concept of grace, but then it seems they were running too far with it, saying, “Okay, since we are saved by grace, it doesn’t matter what we do.” “Since we don’t have to earn God’s love by following his law, we don’t have to follow his law at all. All things are lawful for us.”
They were kind of taking God’s amazing gift of grace and abusing it, taking it places it was never meant to go. They were using it as a license for all kinds of things and Paul uses the example of how they were just being gluttons to illustrate how they were using and abusing their bodies in other ways. We’ll talk about that next week, but for now let’s just think about the gluttony aspect of it. It’s clear that they were abusing themselves. They were taking the bodies God had given them and using them in ways that God had never intended. They were trying to use God’s gift of grace as justification for that.
Paul was willing to agree to a point and say, “Yes, all things are lawful for us.” “We don’t need to be saved by following God’s law anymore, but that doesn’t mean there are no limits.” What happens is, if we try to consider something completely unlimited in our eyes, “We can eat as much as we want.” “We can do as much sexually as we want.” All these kinds of things like that. When we take license with no limits, we very quickly become dominated by what it is we think we’re there to enjoy. That’s why Paul used that language. “Yeah, okay, all things are lawful, but I will not be dominated by anything.”
When we leave the domination of the law for grace, we have make sure we continue living under grace and we don’t become bound by some other system of laws, or by something else. For example, I know a friend who found himself, at one point, in his lowest point in life, homeless and on the streets with a drug problem. He eventually found his way out of that life, but it was amazing to see what a shop-aholic he became. He left addiction to drugs for addiction to shopping and spending. It could be equally damaging in his life if he continues to spend like that in ways he can’t afford. It can still ruin his relationship. It can still ruin his relationship with God. It can still ruin his life. He’s just traded one domination for another.
The question is, if we have to be dominated or owned by something, what’s it going to be? What’s the best thing to devote our lives to? What’s the best thing to pursue above anything else? If it’s not going to be food, if it’s not going to be sexuality or drugs, what will it be, since it has to be something? We will always trade one thing for another. We can’t be completely free to enjoy unlimited things in life. That’s not what they were designed for. So, what will it be?
Paul is suggesting that for the Christians in Corinth, it’s meant to be their devotion to Jesus Christ. That’s meant to be the number one thing in their life. What that leads to is the resurrection of the body. It’s a term that Christians have long used to describe that what we’ll pursue in this life, what we’ll have in the next. If we pursue a relationship with God, we’ll have a relationship with God after death as well. If we’ve avoided, then we won’t have it. But we want it, right? In the same way what we do with our physical bodies matters now.
If we see them as God’s, something to be treated as if they belong to God and used for God, then after death, we can expect our bodies to be raised. It’s clearly something we’ve been pursuing in this life, something that will belong in the next, kind of why Paul says something about stomachs, he says, to elaborate on the saying tha t all things are lawful, he says, “The stomach was made for food and food for the stomach, but God will destroy both.” What he’s saying is that there are some more important things than just filling our stomachs today. We want to treat our bodies as if they belong to God today. We want to treat our bodies as if they matter. We want to treat our bodies as if they matter forever and they will be with us forever, that this isn’t just about feeling good for the moment.
That’s something I want you to consider as you discuss with some friends what you’ve learned today.
Question: “How does what we eat and do with our bodies impact our resurrection bodies?” “What does it tell God about our interest in heavenly bodies when we abuse our physical bodies now?”
Well, have a great discussion. I’ll see you tomorrow.Read the Bible in Sync Today