Thursday, 07 July: “Obstacle”

Reading – 1 Corinthians 9:11-14

2012-london-olympics-day-11-women-100m-hurdles
The women’s 100m hurdle finals at the 2012 London Olympic Games; courtesy of the New York Daily News

Faced with the obstacles of myself in general and specifically of my fear of committing myself to God, this word stuck out to me from tonight’s selection. Paul, both in Acts and in his letters to the early Christian communities, makes a point of not creating burdens or restrictions that would prevent someone from gaining a healthy understanding of Christ’s message and living out the divine call to holiness.

Some such unnecessary obstacles in his eyes were the Jewish dietary laws and the rite of circumcision, both of which Paul proclaimed were not helpful and even harmful to Christians of Gentile origin. In other instances, such as his message here to the Corinthians, Paul stresses the importance of thinking about the background and current spiritual states of one’s fellow Christians and not doing anything that would only upset them and/or cause them to regress in their journey toward God.

The aspiration to not create obstacles does not equate with the effort to please everybody at all times, however. Christians are called to imitate God, as shown especially in Jesus, to challenge themselves, other Christians, and the world to let go of fear, pride, and selfishness and to embrace the trust, generosity, and love that flow from God.

These challenges often upset our views of the world and the ways of living in it that we find most comfortable and reassuring; we must confront them anyway. We should raise our voices against economic, racial, sexual, and other injustice and work to remove them. What we need to watch for and avoid in the process is testing people just to make things harder for them, requiring perfection from them at every moment, and letting our personal views creep in and take over the love and law of God. This includes demanding attention or reward for doing the Lord’s work, even if “those who preach the gospel should live by the gospel.”

We as Christians have a fine line to tread between identifying and facing healthy challenges and simply building obstacles to God for ourselves and others. Please, Holy One, help us to discern this line each day. ~

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