“I mean, brothers and sisters, the appointed time has grown short; from now on, let even those who have wives be as though they had none,” (I Corinthians 7:29)
The day of this writing was sort of a rough day. There have been rough days in the past, and I am sure there will be rough days in the future. Right now though, I am working at “knitting together” my frazzled edges. I am finding comfort in home life, checking in with family, taking things slow, and appreciating what I have.
So Paul’s advice seems a little “rough” for a rough day. He is exhorting his readers to in a sense to not let the attachments in this earthly life have a hold on you. I guess if I felt pretty sure that in the foreseeable future this life would pass away, I could tough it out on my own. But knowing that Paul wrote this a good two thousand years ago, the advice seems a little off. I have read biblical commentators who say the apostles did not really believe that the Messiah would be returning in the “just down road” future; but sometimes you have to wonder. Paul is a good example.
“. . . and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no possessions,” (Verse 30)
To my ear, this sounds like living life in a “holding pattern”; and really, that is not healthy. We need connections to the places, people, and things that keep us centered. Now certainly I understand what Paul’s intent is. That nothing is to keep us from living for and towards the Kingdom of God. But you can, beloved reader, live a earthly full life without that life ruining the “life to come”.
You can mourn those who have passed and still retain the assurance that they are with the Lord. You can rejoice when joyful things happen, and give thanks to the Divine for the blessing that come in this life. And you can keep yourself supplied with the food, clothing, and shelter that you need. You can also encourage others to do the same.
“. . . and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away.” (Verse 31)
One of the ways that I have for dealing with rough days is to left it up to the Divine, and let the Lord God resolve the issue or issues. When I am at the end of my ability to handle it – rather than vex myself and stew & worry, I do what I can about the situation, then pray about it – and then let it rest for three days. The Divine did something pretty miraculous in three days.
Now at the end of the three days the situation may not be any better, but I have taken three days to rest and discern what the Lord would have me do. If I start to worry, I remind myself I have commended it to the Lord, and I need to let the Lord work. At some level it does feel like I have abdicated responsibility, and I do wrestle with that. On another level though, I know that the Lord God is far more capable than I to meet the challenges I have. And when I rest in the Lord for three days, I find myself far more able to handle life than if I churned myself up.
Now, let us consider that Paul has written to the Corinthians. To recap;
“I mean, brothers and sisters, the appointed time has grown short; from now on, let even those who have wives be as though they had none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no possessions, and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away.”
Is Paul really telling his readers to not extend care and concern to those around them? Or is it that the Corinthians were putting living an authentic Christian life at the lowest and least important place in their lives? Is it “bad news, you should only think about yourself and your own salvation”? Or, “stop living a hedonistic life and start following the example of Jesus the Messiah”? Either way, beloved reader, the exhortation was probably hard to hear.
As I said in the opening paragraph, there have been and will be tough days. Days when the news is not good and you will just want to hide away and not deal with the world. But withdrawing from life is never the answer. Christ came to this world to show us how to interact with each other, and how to treat each other as the Divine treats us. The good news is . . . . the worst news will be easier to handle when we allow the Divine to guide our steps. May you, beloved reader, love those around you with such compassion and care that you use up each day – as if you do not need to hold back anything in reserve for the future! Shalom & Selah!