2009-07-30 - SKYEWZ me
1 Cor 10:27 If one of the unbelievers invites you and you want to go, eat anything that is set before you without asking questions for conscience' sake. (NASB)
In Corinth there were temples to various deities, Aphrodite, Apollo and Poseidon to name just a few. It was not an uncommon practice for the meat from the sacrifices in these temples to be sold in the marketplace. While I'm sure disciples of these temples possibly favored the meat from their respective temple sacrifice, I'm equally sure that those who held no particular bearing would look for a bargain and take advantage of it. Paul writes in answer to a question asking if it is acceptable to go to a friend's home and eat without bing informed of the origin of the food at the meal. The answer left the conscience of the believer invited to an unbeliever's home clear if the origin was unknown.
The answer was one other thing too. It was polite. That polite acceptance of the offer of a visit and a meal also opened doors. A meal is often a great place for conversation. God has His ways of leading the conversation through things that include facets of our faith like scattering thoughts like seeds. Paul's answer did not require Christians to ask where the meat came from, which could easily be seems as judgemental against the faith of the host.
Several times recently it has come to my attention that our culture has become less courteous. What was formerly a polite request to pass by, "Excuse me", is now a warning that the person speaking is coming through whether you are out of the way or not. One article pointed out that manners are considered a sign of weakness by some. I would actually consider the lack of manners a sign of weakness. The inability to put someone before yourself is a mark of self-centeredness. And in that single stroke it is the anti-thesis of the life of Jesus Christ.
Jesus came when people asked. Jarius requested Jesus come to help his daughter and Jesus came. The Centurion requested Jesus' help for his child and Jesus honored that request impressed with his faith - and healed his child publicly honored him for his faith. He came to the leaper even when the leaper warned Jesus away, and Jesus healed him. The first time a leaper could be presented to the Priests and be declared clean according to the Levitical law. He came when people had no expectation of Him coming. Jesus called a Tax Collector. The despised officer of the Roman government that all but extorted money from the citizens of occupied nations and Jesus asked Matthew to follow Him. He left his lucrative position and never looked back. Matthew became the author of one of the gospels. Jesus honored the thief on the cross who called to the Lord even though he admitted his own guilt in a capital crime.
In these episodes Jesus exercised power over sickness and death, over prejudice and earthly authority. The leaper and the child of the Centurion were healed, Jarius' daughter was raised from death. A good Jew did not speak with a Tax Collector. Imagine the pain of being rejected by your own people. The thief on the cross was given the gift of eternal life because of his faithful request, not the way his life had been lived. When people scoffed at Jesus' statement that Jarius' daughter was only sleeping, He dismissed them summarily. Jesus invited only the family and his closest disciples into the home where he raised Jarius' daughter - out of respect for the family. He overturned the tables of the vendors and the money changers in the outer court of the Temple in Jerusalem - out of respect for the Father and the purpose of the outer court as a place of contemplation and prayer.
Courtesy does not indicate weakness. It can reflect the heart of Christ in putting others first. It clearly shows the ability to be humble and gracious - by choice, which indicates power in itself. The ability give something you posses, even if it is only a seat on a bus or to recognize the excellence of someone else's character or actions, honors that person. The ability to accept an invitation to dinner graciously, honors the person inviting you - and can open doors in return.
Grace & Peace,