Paul’s letters to Corinth

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His strategy to communicate clearly was simple —

Even though I am a free man with no master, I have become a slave to all people to bring many to Christ.  When I was with the Jews, I lived like a Jew to bring the Jews to Christ. When I was with those who follow the Jewish law, I too lived under that law. Even though I am not subject to the law, I did this so I could bring to Christ those who are under the law.  When I am with the Gentiles who do not follow the Jewish law, I too live apart from that law so I can bring them to Christ. But I do not ignore the law of God; I obey the law of Christ.  When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some.                     1 Corinthians 9:19-22

He accepted limitations so drastic that it seemed like he had become a slave to win many.

Muslims, for example, will struggle with the false sense of obligation to follow Western church traditions.  Paul wrestled with something similar —

Each of you should continue to live in whatever situation the Lord has placed you, and remain as you were when God first called you. This is my rule for all the churches. For instance, a man who was circumcised before he became a believer should not try to reverse it. And the man who was uncircumcised when he became a believer should not be circumcised now.  For it makes no difference whether or not a man has been circumcised. The important thing is to keep God’s commandments.  Yes, each of you should remain as you were when God called you.   Each of you, dear brothers and sisters, should remain as you were when God first called you. – 1 Corinthians 7:17-20,24

Paul gives emphasis to this point by using the word “rule”.  He was not using it as a law to obey, but as a prevailing principle that was guiding the new Christ-following movements among Gentiles.

The dialogue on circumcision could have gone like this — “At the time of following Christ, if someone is not observing Jewish religious traditions, they shouldn’t seek to become culturally Jewish.”

We find Paul writing about the very same thing to the Galatians —

It doesn’t matter whether we have been circumcised or not. What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation.  May God’s peace and mercy be upon all who live by this principle; they are the new people of God.- Galatians 6:15

 

 

 

 

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