In this short reading, Paul reveals several challenges we face in how we are living our lives. At first, I couldn’t help remembering how we all scurried around the house on a Sunday morning so we could all look our best at church. Then there were the repeated reminders to “be on your best behavior.” These days, it seems anything goes in terms of attire at church, and that’s okay because God can see our hearts.
So, what does Paul mean then by “conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ.” What does that mean to you? Thankfully, Paul does give us a few clues to help us sort that out.
Paul deals here with another burning question on the minds of Corinthians dealing with the problem of food sacrificed to idols. I can’t say that this is something I’ve ever thought of, and I’m pretty sure it’s a new one for you, too. But taken in context, it was a very real problem in Paul’s day. The concept applied here can speak to other issues we may be facing.
While the Corinthian’s question was specific about food, Paul wants them to look deeper. Paul wants them to understand that God isn’t going to smite us if we eat such food. “It’s true that we can’t win God’s approval by what we eat.We don’t lose anything if we don’t eat it, and we don’t gain anything if we do.” It comes down to “how does our behavior affect others?”
One of my first memories of elementary school was being picked for dodgeball teams at recess or in gym class. I was lucky if I was picked before being the last one standing there feeling unwanted. (Not pleasant or good for my self-esteem, but somebody must be last!) How did they know I was lousy at sports and afraid of my own shadow?
I learned at that early age that there were divisions in the world. People were always being categorized one way or another. They were athletic or clumsy, smart or dumb, musical or seemingly tone deaf, rich or poor, etc. We could come up with labels all day long. Labels may be just words, but they also cause division and disunity.
There will be times in life when our faith will waver. Circumstances will confuse us and cause us to question everything we know or believe. It’s in those times we need to be surrounded by others with strong faith who can see clearly what is happening, despite our own spiritual blindness.
The story of Naaman has so many rich truths for us to cling to. What spoke loudest to me today was that Naaman’s men had the faith, or at least the wisdom, to calm Naaman’s anger to do as he had been told by the prophet, Elisha. Because of the encouragement of his men, Naaman was healed and his mission into Samaria was a success.