Becoming a Stumbling Block
On the surface, 1 Corinthians 8 seems dated and not relevant for us. But upon closer review, we can discover the motives for Paul’s writings which are as valid in these days of the 21th century as they were in the first century. Paul reminds the Corinthians that dogma is not the primary issue; compassion and concern for one another are. In a day when we are quick to put labels on other persons, we need to be reminded that above all “correct” theology is a concern for other believers.
We can become all worked up over issues such as inclusive language or biblical inerrancy or any number of other issues. But our main attention should be on our witness to the Good News of Jesus Christ. “…take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.” If we take time to think through an issue, we can better now how to approach one another with compassion and concern so Christian love shines through.
—Rev. Terry Maynard
- What was the issue that Paul was addressing? Reflect on your answer.
- What are some of the issues that divide the Church today?
- How can we avoid focusing the church’s energy on dividing issues and instead look to that which unites? How can we communicate with compassion?
- How can we know when an issue is of such significance that it demands a hearing?
How Do I Act?
- Ask someone in your church who loves to research to research some of the issues being debated in the Church today and report back to your church friends. If they have time, ask them to research some of the issues that were of great debate in the past. You may be delighted to note some of these issues are things that we take for granted now.
- Invite someone who believes strongly in an issue that is unpopular in your congregation to share with you in an informative meeting. You may want to set some ground rules so all persons feel heard in compassion rather than “ganged up on.”
- Discuss ways we can lift up our unity even as we debate our various theological positions. Pray for the Church at large especially about specific issues. Do not pray for a particular view (maybe you own to “win out,”) but rather that the Church as a whole will be open-minded to hear and respect all persons involved.
- Keep a list for several weeks of the religious issues that appear in your local newspaper, The Cumberland Presbyterian or The Missionary Messenger. Reflect on this list and seek to formulate your own belief about the various issues facing the church.