1Cor. 10:23ff - Paul Is Seeker Sensitive

Again, my Bible course gave me a new insight (which I suppose is the point) on this little section about Christian liberty (1 Cor. 10:23ff).

Here, Paul states that 'all things are lawful, but not profitable or edifying.' The presenting issue is eating food knowingly sacrificed to idols. Such meat was less expensive (like day-old bread) and many Christians (rightly) felt it was fine to buy that as there was no real spiritual power to that meat. But there were some folks (both new believers and "seekers," if you will) who were still pretty superstitious and creeped out about that meat. As the course (wonderfully taught by Dr. J. Carl Laney) pointed out; this specific issue was clearly decided during the Jerusalem 'Council' several years before. The council's decision was - by now - well known and published abroad.

So why didn't Paul just appeal to the authority of the Council? He was there, he fully participated, certainly he was in agreement with the conclusion and decision - why didn't he just tell the goofy Corinthians: "Look, this was decided years back. You know the decision - just obey."

What I find so refreshing is that Paul goes a completely different track. He doesn't respond authoritatively, he responds evangelistically. Paul says that (v.24) it's not about what's good for you, but what's good for your neighbor. I think he's implying that the "neighbor" is a non-believer or else he'd have used the word "brother." Later (v.27), he specifically refers to unbelievers. And in verse 28, Paul asks the rhetorical question (paraphrased), 'Why should I, knowing better, be prevented from enjoying inexpensive BBQ?' Paul's answer is clear: because you have a greater calling and that's to proclaim the gospel. If eating meat offered to idols is going to be a barrier to a gospel presentation, then you have got to give up your 'theologically pure' practice of inexpensive BBQ.

I think Paul is offering up an arguement for what has been the big point about being "seeker sensitive." Here's the big point about being seeker sensitive: if pews are a barrier to people meeting Jesus, rip them out; if special terminology ("justification," "propitiation," "redemption," etc.) prevents people from understanding the good news, find other words to make the same ideas understandable; and if people who don't know Jesus are actually willing to show up on a Sunday morning (but no other time of the week) to hear the gospel, then we need to move our more serious teaching experience to another time of the week and make our Sunday morning worship service comprehensible - at the least - to those who are interested learning about Jesus.

I think the take away from this passage (and Paul's point) is to put aside our preferences so that whatever we do, we glorify God towards those who do not know Him yet.

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