As we continue our look at Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian Church, he’s speaking about how idolatry relates to the grey areas of sin. This is an important issue. The apostle now lays down the principle of participation.
I speak to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.
1 Corinthians 10:15-17
The first part of participation that we need to understand is our fellowship with Christ. The words translated participation in this verse, are the same that are translated fellowship in other places in Scripture. We have a fellowship in the body and blood of the Lord.
In the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, we’re showing a visible representation of our fellowship. It’s because of our connection to Christ that we’re connected with each other. We all have a share in His body and in His blood.
It’s this concept of participation that should guide some of our actions. There are some who would say that it doesn’t matter what I do outside of the church. What I do in my private time is my own business. But is it?
Remember, it’s all about participation. Am I participating with the world in things I shouldn’t be involved in? That’s the issue Paul’s dealing with here.
Consider the people of Israel: Do not those who eat the sacrifices participate in the altar? Do I mean then that a sacrifice offered to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons.
1 Corinthians 10:18-21
Those are strong words. In context, he’s talking about idolatry in a pagan temple. But this could apply to us as well. There are many things in society that could be seen as modern idolatry. Gaming, the internet, the entertainment industry, sporting events, and a whole host of other things can steal our devotion.
Actually, anything that we participate in that causes us to reject time with Christ is idolatry. No, I don’t think we should be worshipping 24/7. But only serving God two hours a week on Sunday morning is a symptom of spiritual sickness.
Paul tells us the bottom line.
Are we trying to arouse the Lord’s jealousy? Are we stronger than he?
“Everything is permissible” – but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible” – but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.
1 Corinthians 10:22-24
Even things that are permissible, with no evil aspects, can be detrimental to your Christian walk. The fact is, being a Christian is not all about me. I’m a part of something bigger than myself. The fellowship I share is on a spiritual level. The things I do in the natural can have a spiritual effect.
This is key to understanding what’s right or wrong for me. What I do as an individual affects the whole. That’s life in a body. When I stub my toe, my whole body is affected. This is a lesson the current generation of believers needs to learn.
Question: How does a person’s private life affect the whole church?
© 2019 Nick Zaccardi