Daily posts to help you connect with God
and keep yourself travelling in the right orbit
ORBIT | WEEK TEN
ORBIT – DAY FIFTY TWO
Hello and welcome to Orbit – a daily help for your faith from the youth team at St Mary’s Reigate. In the next five minutes you’ll get a bite-sized chunk of wisdom from the Bible, a chance to pray and reflect, and a way of putting this wisdom into practice in your life straight away.
BIBLE READING – 1 Corinthians 6 v 12
The reading today is just one short verse, but it requires a little bit of background. The church in Corinth – who originally received this letter – were behaving in some strange ways. Unlike other churches, which were struggling to get their heads around grace, and were still holding on to the law, these new Christians were going the opposite way: seeing Jesus’ death on the cross, and his forgiveness of all their sins, as a licence to go on and do a whole lot more sinning. So, today’s verse:
“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything.
The Christian life involves walking a thin and tricky line. On the one hand, we should not fall into the trap of religion – doing certain things (and not doing certain others) because we ‘ought to.’ When Jesus died on the cross – he dealt with all of our sin; even the ones we’re yet to commit. So there’s no sense that we can do anything to earn his love or forgiveness. We already have it – guaranteed.
On the other hand, we shouldn’t take his grace for granted – and that is what Paul is addressing here. Although in a sense we can do anything we like, and still not make a dent on God’s love for us, in another sense that is not a very loving response from us to his love. God’s outrageous grace demands a response from us – it’s like when you receive an amazing gift from someone; you wouldn’t throw it back in their face and then ignore them. In the same way, it’s natural for us to want to do certain things in return when we realise what God has done for us.
Paul’s point: that while you’re free to do anything, you shouldn’t want to. Now that you’ve been given freedom in an eternal sense, why on earth would you want to now become a slave to some destructive behaviour?
So what does that look like in practice? Let’s take alcohol as an example. If we drink more alcohol then is sensible, God will not be angry with us. If someone gets stupidly drunk, and totally embarrasses and discredits themselves, God will not love them any less. But… by behaving like that, we have thrown God’s gift of life and freedom back in his face, at least just a bit. So the reason why Christians shouldn’t get stupidly drunk, is not because God will be angry, but because it’s stupid.
The way that we live our lives should be a response to God’s love, not an attempt to win his affection. He already loves us more than we can possibly imagine; all we’re trying to do is say thanks.
Paul’s final words in this verse are that “I will not be mastered by anything”. Elsewhere he writes that it was for freedom that Christ set us free. Not only are we free from death; we’re also free from all the things that knot up and destroy people’s lives in the world. He lets us choose, however, whether we really want to embrace that gift. So – we can do whatever we like – but that’s not always wise. Instead, as we get closer to God, we learn his mind and his ways of doing things; by following his path our lives are made infinitely better.
You might want to join me in praying this prayer.
Lord God, I thank you for your grace. I thank you that there is nothing that I can do to make you love me more, and nothing that I can do to make you love me less. Help me to know that truth deep in my heart, and to respond in the way that I choose to live my life. Help me to make good decisions, every day, that honour you. Amen
There’s now a chance for you to pray, or listen to God, or simply be still for a few moments.
Each day we will provide you with a simple challenge; something to do which helps you put this little thought into action. Here’s today’s challenge:
Think about the behaviours and habits that you have – especially the ones you don’t feel too good about. Is there anything that you’d like to change or give up, not because it makes God angry, but as a response to God’s love? Make a decision to make a small change from today if you can, and ask God for his help.
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We’ll be back with another edition of Orbit tomorrow. Thanks for taking part today!