The Apostle Paul’s Letter to the Corinthians is both a bold rebuke to ungodly behavior and a bold example of love in action. Upon arriving at 1 Corinthians 6 we have already come to understand that the church in Corinth is very fractured (just like the church today) with people have such strong allegiance to leaders (pastors, etc.) in the church that there are arguments and divisions. People are actually more interested in following a man than they are Christ (imagine that!).
Chapter 6 presents another problem that is destroying the church from within and tarnishing the name of Jesus without – lawsuits between believers. Without arguing over the specific details, the main paint is very clear – How can believers be so anti Kingdom of God in their thinking that they would attempt to have their differences settled by unbelievers?
Paul’s argument to these spiritual infants is that (1) believers will judge the world with Christ and thus should be able to judge their own problems, (2) believers will judge unbelievers therefore it is out of place for believers to purposely be going to unbelievers to solve their disputes, (3) unbelievers have no standing in the Kingdom of God, (4) Jesus is being made a spectacle of, (5) this is giving reason for unbelievers to remain in their sin instead of seeing the glorious nature of Christ exhibited in His followers lives.
What is Paul’s judgment on this matter? For the sake of the Kingdom of God and the reputation of Christ, be willing to be wronged, have your reputation tarnished, etc. What is legally permissible in not in this case at all beneficial to the Kingdom of God.
Taking a believer to court and winning is actually losing. The win was at the cost of elevating personal desire above the Kingdom of God and in that you have lost. The win was also at the cost of a tangible witness to the greatness of God. Instead, the win was about your greatness over your brother. The Kingdom of God is about the Greatness and Glory of God. He must increase, we must decrease. And so, the win is a loss – for the Kingdom, for Christ, the Father, the Spirit, the Church, and even for the winner because if your family loses, you lose too.
This is just as much a ‘hard word’ today as I’m sure it was in the first century, particularly in our American individualistic society in which we are taught not to let others wrong us. Ah, but that is the subversive nature of the Kingdom of God. It does not take over by force, but rather spreads slowly and grows like the mustard seed.
The radical commands of Scripture – the ones that aren’t really very confusing – are still what they always were – a radical amputating of our fleshly desires and a means of greatly exalting The Christ, Jesus of Nazareth.
Lord, may we choose to live what we say – that you really are Lord and King in our lives. May we choose today to make the eternal Kingdom of God our allegiance and not the kingdoms of man, all of which will be destroyed in time.
For further meditation on some hard texts, consider the following passages of Scripture from John the Baptist and Jesus Himself (maybe I’ll blog on them at a later time).
He replied to them, “The one who has two shirts must share with someone who has none, and the one who has food must do the same.” (Luke 3:11)
If anyone hits you on the cheek, offer the other also. And if anyone takes away your coat, don’t hold back your shirt either. Give to everyone who asks you, and from one who takes your things, don’t ask for them back. (Luke 6:29-30)
As for the one who wants to sue you and take away your shirt, let him have your coat as well. (Matthew 5:40)