January 04, 2016

The Epistle

The local newspaper publisher, a relatively newcomer to town, will occasionally write an editorial. In a recent column he recapped his Christmas holiday beginning with, “For those of you who think I share too much personal stuff about my life in this column; bail out now. For those who enjoy it; read on.”  Even just scanning the column I felt like some stranger just sent me his Christmas letter. When Paul wrote to a particular church he referenced his ministry, but the letters also contained instructions, encouragement and warnings for the body of believers…so much so that the letters were circulated to other churches. I’m trying to imagine Paul saying if you don’t like what you’re reading, bail out now. In Paul’s final thoughts to the Corinthians he said, “Finally, brothers, good–by. Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you” (2 Cor 13:11 NIV).

1 comment:

Steve Corey said...


-----In a general sense, to the Corinthians, Paul stated something similar. After referring to head coverings and hair lengths, he wrote, “If any one is disposed to be contentious, we recognize no other practice, nor do the churches of God.” (I Cor 11:16) It isn’t really the same as telling the contentious readers to quite reading, but it implies to them where to get off. Then he was more direct later in this letter when instructing the Corinthians on glossolalia, orderliness, and women keeping silent in church, “If any one thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that what I am writing to you is a command of the Lord. If any one does not recognize this, he is not recognized.” (I Cor 14:37-38) This time he not only implies to the contentious readers where to get off, he tells the agreeable readers to give the cold-shoulder to the contentious ones. He instructed the Romans to avoid contentious people, “…take note of those who create dissensions and difficulties, in opposition to the doctrine which you have been taught; avoid them.” (Rom 16:17) I would like that the new publisher do the same regarding his paper’s left-wing readers.
-----Jesus was also rather direct about where some should get off. His technique was to just use parables that those inclined to seek the Lord would understand, and the rest would not. “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to him who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. With them indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah which says: ‘You shall indeed hear but never understand, and you shall indeed see but never perceive.” (Matt 13:11-14) It isn’t the same as telling people not to read on if they don’t like his writing, but it is similar in that it sorts the disagreeable readers from the agreeable. John the Baptist came right out and told some that he wasn’t talking to them, “But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?’” (Matt 3:7)
-----The Bible clearly recognizes that it has two categories of readers: those who read it to receive its message, and those who read it for whatever other purpose. The Bible not only makes this apparent in statements similar to the above, but it directly speaks of the reality that God must be actively sought (Prov 2:1-6.) Nobody just stumbles over the Lord, except for Paul as he approached Damascus when he was yet called “Saul”.

Love you all,
Steve Corey