The World Now and the World To Come (The Epistles Passage)

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. “ (I Corinthians 7:29-31)

On the day I sat down to write this commentary, the search and recovery process of the AirAsia flight was going one, the terrorists in Paris had been found and killed, and Samuel Goldwyn Jr had died from congestive heart failure. Each day some portion of this world passes away and new events and issues arise. The writer of I Corinthians advise his readers to hold on to things lightly, because soon they will no longer exist. Possessions will no longer be important and the relationships that define our lives will be no longer.

That radicals changes were coming must have been frightening to hear about. But when these changes did NOT come about, it must have been very confusing. How to live in a world that might be over in an instant? That is a challenge for today, as well as for the times the writer of I Corinthians was writing.

We have the advantage (or maybe it is the handicap) in being firm in out belief that there will be a tomorrow, a week from now, a month in the future and a next year. We can plan and be confident our plans will come to fruition. But there in lies the handicap; we get attached to our possessions. We depend on relationships to define us and then place higher value on how people see us than on how God sees us. We hold on too tightly to this life and do not plan for and invest in the life to come.

The writer of I Corinthians had the advantage of people believing that the world as they knew it would soon pass away. But now, if someone predicts the end of the world, they will be laughed at and scorned. And their message, whether it be good and true or misguided and harmful, will be lost. How do we preach, teach, and guide for the life to come when life here is defined only by age and calamity?

In the next three days we will look at the scripture passages that come from the Revised Common Lectionary and consider these things further. Shalom for your day!