Thursday 16 March 2017

Bible Book:
1 Corinthians

“Do you not know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough? … Therefore, let us celebrate the festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (vv. 6, 8)

1 Corinthians 5:1-8 Thursday 16 March 2017

Psalm: Psalm 119:145-160


In this passage, Paul confronts the Corinthian church about thequality of ethical relationships they were nurturing in theChristian community. In verse 1 he notes that they were toleratingan incestuous sexual relationship.

A Christian community that wishes to make visible an alternativeway of living, needs a way of maintaining a discipline that willdeal with unacceptable behaviour. Otherwise, the church is rightlycharged with hypocrisy.

Paul's focus was not so much on the individual who had donewrong, but on the whole community that was colluding and notdealing with the situation.

This collusive attitude was like a leaven, an almost invisibleingredient which was corroding the life of the whole community.

They needed to wake up to some tough love.

Paul's language is hard and uncompromising. He told theCorinthians to assemble, in the power of the Lord Jesus Christ,with Paul's spirit with them and cast the man out of the community(verses 4-5).

Paul's reasoning was that in casting him out, and so refusingcommunal relationship with him, he was abandoned to the wiles ofSatan in the world. However, this experience might very well bringhim to his senses and save his soul.

For destruction of the flesh, read not 'the body' but universalhuman egoic operating systems that allow us to resist actingthrough God's loving.

And in doing so, this passage can make us uncomfortable.

We are left pondering on how we get the right balance betweenappropriate discipline and compassion, particularly in sexualrelationships today.

A characteristic of contemporary culture is to mind our ownbusiness and to prefer not to notice. But, at the same time,sections of society have woken up to the prevalence of sexual anddomestic abuse and the Christian Church is committed to bringingwhat has been hidden into the open.

A challenge for us, then, is how we resolve the tensions betweena Godly imperative for justice with an equally strong Godlyimperative for compassion.

In John's Gospel (John8:1-11) Jesus was confronted by the Jewish elders wishing tostone the woman caught in adultery. But he neithercondoned norcondemned the woman; or her accusers. He merely suggested that theperson without sin cast the first stone.

One can sense the tension between judgement, discipline andcompassion.

To Ponder

  • What stories do you have of how discipline has been wisely andcompassionately used in your church community?
  • What situations can you think of in which the tension betweenjustice and compassion has been an issue? How was it resolved ornot?
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