1 Corinthians 7:17-24 – Where Were You?

Read 1 Corinthians 7:17-24

silhouette of a person on their knees, praying with sunset behind them

Do you remember where you were when God first called you? Take a moment to think about when you first heard about Jesus and accepted him into your life. I’ve found myself being a little envious of people who have one of those mind-blowing “come to Jesus” experiences. Paul’s counsel here is telling us to “remain as you were when God first called you.”

I’m not sure what Paul means here. After all, once our lives have been touched by God, we are finally following him as a “new creation,” like it says in 2 Corinthians 5:17. “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun.” If we’re “new” people, how do we stay where we are? Don’t get caught in the weeds. Instead ask, “What Paul is doing here and what does the context of this text mean?”

What Paul is probably doing here is giving the people a few more distinctions that set people apart. People would fall into one or the other of these “categories.” Our discussion in Chapter 7 up to now has been focused on marriage and/or being unmarried when it comes to sex. Paul wasn’t necessarily encouraging people to change their marital status either, was he?

Paul’s counsel is here will also help diffuse question about who can be called by God. These words would help people overcome the early objections about becoming believers. For Jews, circumcision was something expected and required. As many Jews became Christ followers, they brought with them the expectation that all Christ followers should look like them, like Jesus did, and be circumcised. You may recall the crisis that led to in Acts 15.

The gospel is for all people. Paul’s shift is to focus on these two other differences: slave vs. free and circumcised vs. uncircumcised. What I’m taking from this is that in God’s eyes, our “position” in life doesn’t matter. God loves us all!

Isn’t the gospel meant to free us from the anxiety of our distinctions and welcome all believers, no matter the “shape or size”? We find our identity in Christ, not labels of this world. Paul wanted people to have the freedom to serve God in “whatever situation the Lord has placed you.”

In other words, “bloom where you are planted.” I’ve often said that about my own life. Who would have imagined I’d be living in the mountains of Mexico on my 55th birthday, retired from the legal profession once and for all? God has placed me here, and now it’s time to “bloom.” Are you blooming where God has planted you?

Where you are right now may be a lot different than when you first started following Jesus. That’s okay. The journey is different for each of us. Some of us are just getting started. Others may be feeling a little numb, almost like we take our faith for granted. Scripture is a key for all of us to move forward in our relationship with Jesus.

Count your blessings and thank God for where you are right now!

praying hands looking up

Let’s pray …
Father God, thank you for how you love me even in the messes of my life. Forgive me when I judge others and their motivations. Help me to concentrate on my own faith journey while using my gifts to help others along their own journey. Help me remember that my identity is in Christ. That’s all that matters. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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