October 1, 2023

1 Corinthians 7:17-24

Do you ever wonder, “Why did God put me here”? Not necessarily “here” as in earth but more “here” as in specific scenarios or places? Maybe you find yourself asking that very question today! Why do you have me in THIS specific scenario God?
We’ve been following Paul in his writing to the church at Corinth and the last few passages have been on marriage, singleness, marriage again, and now…circumcision and slavery??? Seems like an odd twist, especially when you look ahead and see that we go BACK to marriage in the next passage.
In reality, Paul isn’t changing the topic. He’s simply enlarging the net he casts to grab our attention to what he is trying to share…that our current situation isn’t bigger than God.
In this passage there are three things that become focal points: circumcision(or lack thereof), slavery, and life situations.
Circumcision because Paul points out to the church that it doesn’t matter if we are circumcised or not, and we don’t need to do it or undo it. What matters is that we follow God’s commands.
Slavery because Paul reminds us that if we are slaves, we have been freed through the blood of Christ. If we are free, we have become slaves of Christ. Either way, we live for God!
Finally, life situations. Three times in this short passage Paul calls us to “remain in the situation we are in when we are called”. Paul really wants us to know, DON’T TURN THE PAGE! Absolutely, live as someone who has found new life in Christ…but stop trying to get out of your current circumstances just because that has changed. Essentially the three plea’s go like this:

Plea 1: Stay in the situation you were in when God called you. He didn’t ask you to change situations before accepting salvation…recognize maybe He will proclaim His salvation through you in your current circumstances.

Plea 2: Remain in the situation you were called(immediately following the circumcision talk). God can and will use you to proclaim His good news and glory immediately upon accepting Him. You don’t need to become more prominent in society before you become a disciple maker. -Remember, reverse circumcision was often done to “blend in” with the gentile crowd and draw less attention to religious customs. As was circumcision itself within Jewish circles(look at Timothy in Acts 16).

Plea 3: Recognize that God is with you in these situations, you aren’t alone. God isn’t a hands-off god. He bought you for a price and He is going to walk with you through this life as you experience each situation life throws at you. All you need to do is follow His commands.

So, some simple questions to work through now that we’ve established all that.

  1. Take a minute and look at your current situation…have you already surrendered to Christ or are you still trying to do all of this by yourself? If you can’t remember a time you stepped back from self and stepped towards the Savior, now is a good time to ask the question “why”. Why not surrender your life to God? Individually take time to think through this question. Groups, maybe break off into groups of 2 or 3 and briefly share the 90 second version of when you surrendered to God.
  2. So, with the understanding that surrender has occurred, are you trying to turn the page before God’s done using you in this situation? Life will move on naturally; you may go from being single, to married, to a parent, etc. Or from intern, to associate, to manager, etc. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the situation you were assigned by God has changed. Paul was called as an Apostle to the gentiles, Peter as an Apostle to the Jews. Perhaps God has called you as a messenger to the very people you once were with before surrendering to Him, just like the man in Mark 5:1-20. Take a minute and sincerely ask yourself…am I trying to turn the page before God’s done using me? Am I even trying to make Him known in the current situation I’m in?
  3. Lastly, do you live as though God is walking with you? What I mean is, as you go through these different situations, do you recognize that God is with you in them…or do you merely think of Him as a background thought? Like the tab in your web browser you never open, but you know it’s there if you ever need it. Does God’s existence in your life beckon you to live LIKE CHRIST, or is it just that nasty alarm going off that you keep hitting the snooze button on thinking “maybe later when things have changed and it’s easier for me to live like Christ”?

One final example that wasn’t(most likely) shared during the sermon. Look at the example of Esther. We have a young woman in a marriage she had no desire to be in, hiding her identity for fear of her life, in a country her people were currently exiles in. Oh and to top it all off her parents had died and she was living in her cousins household. Yet she finds herself in a situation where she has the chance to save her people from an evil official seeking their genocide. She is hesitant at first, speaking up in her current situation could mean death for herself. Yet her cousin Mordecai challenges her with this question in Esther 4:14…”If you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will come to the Jewish people from another place, but you and your father’s family will be destroyed. Who knows, perhaps you have come to your royal position for such a time as this.
Perhaps…you aren’t where you are by accident. Perhaps…God has orchestrated all of this for you to proclaim His love to the lost and to disciple His church. Perhaps…you are where you are to glorify God!
If you find yourself saying, “No ‘perhaps’ about it, I’m there…but I don’t know what to do,” may I recommend following Esther’s example in 4:15? Fast, pray, and rest in God’s strength.

Know that if you need someone to pray and/or fast with you, or church staff and family are here! We love you and are constantly lifting you up in our prayers to God.