Beyond What Is Written
January 26, 2016 — 1 Corinthians 4:1–7
This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.
I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another. For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?
Let me be the first one to admit that doing this daily writing routine is a bit self-indulgent. There is a certain level of catharsis in finally expressing some of the ecclesiastical angst that I have about my faith. Everything about who I am is wrapped up in what I believe to be true about the work of Jesus, and what it means to be united to Him. Please forgive my impassioned pleas to see things in a different light. This passage is as much for me, as it is for the people who hold different ideas.
I was going to write today about not judging me. I wanted to go on about how we are so focused on ideological purity sometimes that we end up dehumanizing our brothers and sisters. But I am tired of being a frustrated millennial today, and I think I would be guilty of doing what I think Paul is warning against in this passage.
As believers we need to be on guard from the seductive pull to give instruction where there is none, and make people live a certain way because it fits more into our worldview. I am always going to be more likely to push believers into a certain version of love as I define it. It is going to look a lot more action based on a small scale, and moving away from the political and religious movements of my parents’ generation. I am a product of my own biases. I must confess that, and be ever aware of that as I seek to push those around me into deeper love and trust of Jesus.
What that means is that I must take a humble stance; it means that I should not go beyond what is written. It is so easy for me to be puffed up and self righteous against my brothers and sisters when I am faced with the innumerable perceived failings of love and justice in the body — how hypocritical of me then to get indignant when those who have wisdom from experience chide the younger generation for being wishy-washy and vapid.
Both my older brothers and sisters and I must submit to the true and simple gospel that has been given to us through the teachings of the apostles. That teaching is this: we are one in Christ. We are as one with Christ as a wife is one with her husband, and he is one with her. It is a divine mystery and must be confessed.
Please forgive me for the times I have elevated my interpretation of the best way to love over yours. Please forgive me for the times I have grumbled at the perceived self-preservation when I am guilty of all the same actions. I am guilty of going beyond what was written. But one last thing, please join me in considering the implications of what it means to be actually, truly, completely intertwined with the physical human savior Jesus. It makes for some interesting conversation, and a handful of worshipful experiences.