1 Corinthians 8:11-12 Christ gave up his life for that person. Wouldn’t you at least be willing to give up going to dinner for him—because, as you say, it doesn’t really make any difference? But it does make a difference if you hurt your friend terribly, risking his eternal ruin! When you hurt your friend, you hurt Christ. (The Message Bible)
Corinth is a city in Greece that in Paul’s day was steeped in pagan culture. Faith in Christ was a new thing there and the church was learning how to be the church of different people with different backgrounds. The specific issue Paul is addressing here deals with meat sacrificed to pagan idols but the principle is timeless; when we order our lives do we make decisions with the good of others in mind or do we think first of what is best for us? For the past year we have been exploring if it is more faithful to God for two Presbyterian congregations about one mile apart to seek their futures together rather than as separate congregations. I wish I could tell you that each was looking out for the good of the other. Sometimes that has been true. But there has also been plenty of us vs. them. Sometimes it has gotten contentious and, to my mind, pretty ugly. I wonder if Paul wouldn’t want to remind us that “when you hurt your friend, you hurt Christ.” We are not unusual in this respect. I see the same attitude in our denomination, in our country, in families. Way back when he was with the Beatles George Harrison wrote a song entitled I, me, mine. He, too, could see that human beings tend to look to their own interests first and then to those of others. But shouldn’t Christ make a difference in that? Will he make a difference in the way you approach others this week?