Christopher B. Harbin
1st Corinthians 10:9-17
“Stand on your own two feet!” We have heard that phrase hundreds of times. We want our children to become independent. We want our poor to live without need of the aid a society might lend. We want the disabled, the elderly, the young, the strong, and the weak to live with no need of another’s support. It is not a realistic ideal, but it informs our language, our expectations, our priorities, and our sense of self-worth. John Donne would tell us “no man is an island,” yet we struggle against that Renaissance motif, as though we might truly become independent, with no need for one another.
We dream of standing on our own as “self-made” individuals, depending on no one else and beholden to no one. At the end of the day, however, the loneliness of isolation and independence kills us. We are creatures of a social nature, against which we so often struggle. If half of all marriages end in divorce, division, and discord, why should we bother with marriage in the first place? Is it not due to our desire to live in unity, harmony, and intimate society with another? Do teens not take their lives over issues of relationship, belonging, and acceptance? We yearn for independence, yet we yearn for community, acceptance, belonging, and love at the same time. We are creatures of connection who likewise struggle to define our worth at once in contrast to and independence from others.
Paul addressed a church divided over many issues, a body struggling with questions of identity, a group of individuals positioning themselves for advantage over one another, a society whose members wanted to stand out above the rest. They did not want to depend on one another. They did not want to submit personal will and desire to the good of the larger group. They wanted independent self-worth, yet they wanted it in connection with one another.
Issues of sin raised their ugly heads, and Paul addressed them recall ...
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