15 May 2019

1 Corinthians 8:1-8

‘Food will not bring us close to God.’ We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. (v. 8)

Psalm: Psalm 128


I saw a label on some food the other day that claimed it was "gluten and vegan free", honestly! I have friends who have to avoid gluten, but I’ve never met anyone who wanted to eat a vegan! And here I go again, pedant on the warpath! Precision of language does matter but legalism is another thing altogether.

I sense that when Paul talked about food he was hacking at the roots of fundamentalism. I remember seeing a poster once which said something like this, "As Christians we seek after ultimate truth. But if we think we have found it we are wrong." At one time, most people thought the world was flat. Many believed that it was created in 4004 BC. Faith was founded on these ‘truths’. When these were challenged faith was threatened. The choice was to adapt to a new ‘truth’ or defend the original belief. But so much was built on the false foundation. Some clung to it. Then others hit back, shouting ‘fool’.

And we respond. In the extreme we can be led to believe that we need to destroy this ‘evil’ that is attacking our belief. Our own history can teach us a lesson. Jesus had posed just such a threat to the Judaism of his day. Some people, I guess, ignored him. Some tried to see things from his point of view and even adjusted their beliefs. Others got rid of him.

Often quite minor challenges seem threatening. And Paul responds: "Food will not bring us close to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do." What we eat is not fundamental, not a matter to die for or to kill for. Behaviour is not unimportant, but it should be founded on love for a neighbour. That, I think, is fundamental.


To Ponder:

  • What is the bare minimum that you need to believe as a Christian?
  • Sydney Carter who wrote "Lord of the Dance" once said that his creed was "nothing fixed or final". Would that be tenable for you? If not, why?

Bible notes author

The Revd Andrew Pratt

Andrew is a Methodist supernumerary presbyter, Honorary Research Fellow at Luther King House, Manchester, and author. He has written over 1,450 hymns.

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