(1 Corinthians 11:2-16)
There was a practice in the church for many years where women were expected to wear some kind of head covering when they attended church. This practice has weakened and pretty much disappeared today, but even so there are some churches that still hold to this tradition quite strongly.
To veil or not to veil
Much of the argument for this tradition comes out of this section of scripture. But is it what the scripture is truly saying? Does a woman have to wear a veil or a hat or some other kind of head covering today?
The question is probably even more compelling given the rise of Islam and the requirement of that religion for women to not just wear hats or veils, but to fully cover their faces with the burka. Now I do not intend to get into the discussion over whether the burka is right or wrong as my focus is not about what is done in Islam, but rather what is practiced in the name of Jesus Christ and the Christian churches. So let us look at this scripture to try to understand what Paul was driving at.
(1 Corinthians 11:1)
Imitate Christ and be transformed for real
Now here is an interesting scripture in the bible. It says,
Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. – (1 Corinthians 11:1)
What thoughts are conjured up in your mind when you think of being an “imitator” or an imitation of someone or something else? Do you perhaps think of such things as false, fake, unreal, cheap and nasty?
Those are the types of things that often come to mind when we look at imitation. But this is not what Paul was talking about in this verse, and there is an important lesson we must learn here.
(1 Corinthians 10:25-33)
Here is a question for you. If you knew Jesus was looking over your shoulder every minute of the day, would you do anything differently?
All to the glory of God
I hope the answer you gave to yourself was “no.” But if it wasn't, then consider what you might need to do to change.
The focus of this section of scripture is this: Do all things to the glory of God.
It doesn't matter what you do as you wander the days of your life, everything you do or say should be uplifting and glorifying to God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. But how?
(1 Corinthians 10:23-24)
A number of things come to mind as I read these two verses. First is the stark contrast between the old and the ne covenants, especially as they were interpreted and put into practice by both the Pharisees and Jesus Christ respectively.
Law versus Love
The Pharisees strictly applied the letter of the law, but without love. Their approach was without compassion, mercy or judgement. On the contrary, Jesus kept the law also but both preached and showed by His actions how it should be interpreted from the basis of faith, mercy, compassion, justice and most importantly, love.
The second thing that occurred to me as I read this is how wrong it is when many so-called Christians deliberately misinterpret the freedom from law we have in Christ Jesus by faith, and promote licentiousness. Paul is quite explicit in these two verses that this is not the purpose or function of freedom from law.
(1 Corinthians 10:14-22)
All of the things the Lord taught His disciples and requested them to pass on to the disciples they made for Him were done for a purpose. Nothing the Lord asks, did or gave to man is without reason or without purpose.
Breaking bread and communion
One of the key things Jesus taught the disciples to do was the breaking of bread, or taking communion as it is referred to in many churches. And like all the things the Lord taught us, it is important we understand what it is and why we do it. Otherwise it becomes a meaningless thing done by rote that has no meaning for those doing it.
This section of scripture is one of those that explains just exactly what breaking of bread is and what it means to those who take it.
(1 Corinthians 10:13)
Walking in Christ is not an easy journey. We are called to receive life into eternity, but the road to that life is filled with struggles, troubles, trials and tribulations, for that is our lot as we walk with Christ Jesus.
God will protect against temptation
We are warned about this many times in the Bible and are told that it will be a difficult journey. But the end goal and the promise of the Lord far outweighs the discomforts we may come against in this time.
And aside from the battles we face with the direct opposition of the devil and the problems he throws at us, we have the internal battles against the passions, lusts and desires of human nature. It is these that the devil so often tries to turn against us by putting temptations in our way to cause the passions and desires to be inflamed and to cause us to fall down.
But we see in this scripture that God promises us protection, so we must remember this as we are tempted.
(1 Corinthians 10:6-12)
This section of scripture exhorts us to learn the lessons of the past. Too often in this world we find that people do not learn from the mistakes of others, let alone their own mistakes, and so they repeat the same bad decisions and wrong behaviour over and over again.
Beware of arrogance
The old saying is true that says, “Those who fail to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them.” I know for a fact this is true in many business situations, and it is true in life as well.
That is why we need to read the bible and study the words and examples written there. The bible does not only teach us the words of life, but it also gives us examples of those who do wrong…and the outcome when they did so. And too often it is in arrogance that people believe they can get away with what is wrong to their own destruction.
(1 Corinthians 10:1-6)
If we are to follow the Lord and come to God, we must do so as He has defined the way. Jesus is the way and we an only come to God through Jesus Christ. And there are certain “rules” to follow if we are to come to Christ in a way that pleases God.
All of the things God gave us as gifts, methods of praise and worship or instructions were given for a specific purpose. None of His gifts, methods or processes were given for no reason, nor should they be ignored. There is a definite plan, purpose and reason for every little thing that God has told us to seek and do and none is to be disregarded.
And today especially I want to consider the act of baptism and explain why this particular act is so important. There are many in the church who have lost the understanding of this critical action we are to participate in when we first come to Christ, and this set of scriptures today will help us understand. Indeed the Lord Jesus Christ considered baptism so important, and so critical that He was baptised Himself and He specified baptism as one of the key things in the great commission He gave to the disciples just before He departed the earth to return to the Father. So we should listen and obey.
(1 Corinthians 9:24-27)
It's not blind faith. Being a Christian is not about wandering aimlessly about wondering where you are going and what's coming next.
Aiming for the goal
We as Christians have a specific goal we are aiming at. We have a specified path we must follow. We are being led by the Holy Spirit to the goal that is to be ours at the end of this journey with Christ.
And we know what the goal is and how we are to achieve it. So we do not run aimlessly and without a purpose like an athlete who is in a race but does not know the way to the finish line. We know the way. Jesus is the Way, and the truth and the life. We follow Him and He leads us to the goal, which is eternal life in the kingdom of God with Jesus Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords.
(1 Corinthians 19-23)
It is highly possible that the greatest quality of all that any person needs to exhibit to spread the gospel of the Lord, apart from faith, love and hope of course, is to show empathy towards their fellow man.
Empathy is where we feel WITH another person.
The apostle Paul knew this and was perhaps one of the greatest ambassadors of empathy that ever lived. This section of scripture clearly shows how through the application of pathway, Paul spread the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to all men, and still today his words ring true.
Empathy is one of those human emotions that makes us human. It separates us from th animals, and in Christ, it separates us from the world. It is essential to people who work with people in all areas of life from nursing to sales, from customer service to the ministry and from counselling to politics. It is at the root of humanity and how we connect to one another. Without empathy there is no connection. It's that important.