Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the historic one-year lectionary.
I’ve had discussions, if you can call them that, more frequently of late than usual, with people who level charges against what they think Christianity is. Perhaps that is indicative of our culture in general, perhaps not. Yet regardless, our Epistle reading from 1 Corinthians 4:1-5 speaks to the attitude underneath these discussions.
The apostle tells us that we are “servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God” (v. 1, ESV). The Christian is not a servant of the culture, nor of history, nor of his own or anyone else’s opinion. He is a servant of Christ. As well as we can determine the will of the Savior, based on Scripture, which is our definitive revelation, we serve Jesus’ priorities. We follow His commands. Does Jesus say to love and serve our neighbors? Yes, He does. So what do we do? We love and serve our neighbors, both those who seem worthy to us and those who seem unworthy. Does Jesus say exactly how we serve our neighbors? No, He doesn’t. Does Jesus specifically define who our neighbors are? He illustrates it as being the person we are in contact with and who is in need. That leaves the doors wide open for us to wrestle with situations where those we are in contact with have differing and competing needs. As servants of Christ, we do what we are able to, as well as we understand the situation, and we trust that He will make it clear to us when we need to change course.
What does a steward of the mysteries of God do? He cares for those things that we don’t understand. To throw a little theological terminology around, we frankly can’t understand how substitutionary atonement works. We also can’t understand how water along with the promises of God would forgive sins. We really can’t explain Jesus being truly, physically, substantially, and essentially present in consecrated bread and wine. These are mysteries. We can describe them, but we really can’t explain them. A steward doesn’t have to explain something. He simply takes care of it and makes sure it is present and available for use when the master wants to use it.
Back to those alleged discussions. They are alleged discussions because the assailant in the encounter doesn’t actually wish to discuss anything. He or she wants to make accusations which are rarely based on actual facts. The discussions are rather like giving testimony about why I didn’t stop beating my wife (I couldn’t stop because I never started). The encounters are uniformly about “Christianity” but pertain to issues which are not central to Christian faith or practice. They presuppose that Christianity is a social invention intended to bring the force of oppression on certain groups of people in order to exploit them. They have nothing to do with Christ crucified for sinners and raised from the dead to deliver justification to all who believe on him.
In response to a spiritual mugging, what do we do? We hold firmly to the faith delivered to us in Scripture, bringing honor to Christ, the author and finisher of our salvation, the one who will come as the righteous judge of all. Those who actually want to receive the riches of God in Christ are free to do so. We trust that those whose hearts are opened by the Holy Spirit will become partakers of his riches alongside us.
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