Life is full of choices. Sometimes the Bible gives a clear understanding of the choices. But God will not tell you who to vote for on Tuesday, just like God will not tell you who to marry.
The Corinthians too are struggling with the right thing to do. Remain a widow? Remarry? Stay unmarried? Paul says two interesting things: 1) “I have no command of the Lord, but I give my opinion….” and 2) “the appointed time has grown short”
In the midst of his argument, Paul lays a foundation for church governance. And it is the foundation of theological debate. Despite Paul having no scriptural warrant for such beliefs, he gives his opinion as someone in Christ’s loving embrace. The church would do well to take a cue from this. I speak daily to people who believe scripture says one thing or another, when often there is no scriptural warrant for their beliefs. I would rather we be honest about that, and then begin the discussion. That doesn’t mean their ideas are less valid. But it also means there can be many interpretations. Healthy discussion could be more easily achieved in these instances.
The second phrase roots Paul in a time when the church was focused on the end of times. They believed the second coming was very, very soon. They were making preparations for that, and not getting bogged down in the acts of daily living. They were instead living for Christ alone.
I don’t hear many in our churches today making preparations of this kind. Perhaps we should. Do we believe Christ is coming again? Perhaps we should. Because the fact is, he is coming. We are called only to lay a foundation for his reign now. Easier said than done!
This “end of times” theology shapes Paul’s thinking. Should we throw it out and move on? Should we embrace that kind of thinking again? If we do, how does it change us?
As I think about worship in today’s churches, and especially what I experience on Sunday at First Presbyterian in OKC, I see the church right on track. When I hear John Edwards on the organ, and his care and concern for congregational song, and the way he lifts us and encourages us all in glorious song, I give thanks. I also give thanks for the organ rebuild we have done here in 2016. Congregational singing is better! Have you noticed?
I think of these times of church as our dress rehearsals. We are preparing each other for the praise of the heavenly choirs. We are preparing and rehearsing for a celebration beyond comprehension. This is the church at its best, living life for the praise of the Almighty. To pepper in “end of times” theology gives urgency and purpose to our dress rehearsal.
So let us rehearse and perfect our lives with urgency and purpose. Let us move into God’s good future, not knowing what the future holds, but knowing who holds the future.