Lawsuits Among Christians

Don’t look now, but it’s September 22nd and I’m only posting the readings #7 and #8. Hmmm…

Daily Scripture readings for September, set #7:

Joshua, chapters 15-17
Psalm 78:1-39
Mark 2:18-28
1 Corinthians 6:1-11

Joshua chapter 15 ends this way: “But the Jebusites, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the people of Judah could not drive out, so the Jebusites dwell with the people of Judah at Jerusalem to this day” (vs 63). Chapters 16 and 17 also include verses like this, describing Israel’s failure to fully eliminate the indigenous people from the Promised Land. The wording is interesting in that it makes the people of Israel at fault for the failure, but Exodus 23 states that it is the Lord who will drive out the nations of the Promised Land (even by sending hornets into the land!). I wonder if the key to understanding how these passages go together is the “if” component in God’s description of how he will act toward Israel (Ex 23:22). IF Israel keeps covenant with God, IF they follow obediently, etc. This also is the tone of Deuteronomy 11, when it too promises that God will himself drive out the nations of Canaan… if Israel keeps covenant. Old Covenant = IF.

Psalm 78 also touches on the nature of the Old Covenant and Israel’s failure to keep their end of the deal. “Their heart was not steadfast toward him; they were not faithful to his covenant. Yet he, being compassionate, atoned for their iniquity and did not destroy them; he restrained his anger often and did not stir up all his wrath” (vs 37-38). Note that God, even though Israel rebels, still has compassion on them.

Mark 2, verse 27: “And he said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.'” This is one of those texts where knowing Greek would be helpful in order to study the word structure. Does “made” mean “created” in this context? And if so, is it a Genesis 1 kind of creation?

1 Corinthians 6:7 is quite a direct and serious challenge to many aspects of current American Christianity. “To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded?” I seems like Paul’s logic works two ways: 1) How could you think that unbelievers would be better suited to fix your problems than believers? And, 2) How could you think that fixing a quarrel in court would be a better idea than simply laying down your pride/possessions and taking one on the chin on behalf of your brother?

Daily Scripture readings for September, set #8:

Joshua, chapters 18-19
Psalm 78:40-72
Mark 3:1-21
1 Corinthians 6:12-20

Joshua 18:8-10 is another instance where someone in a position of leadership casts lots (rolls dice) in order to find out God’s will. “And Joshua cast lots for them in Shiloh before the Lord” (vs 10). The final verse of Joshua 19 reiterates that the land was divided amongst the people “by lot.” What a powerful acknowledgment of God’s sovereignty over all things (including the universal symbol of chance/randomness). Question: would it be a fair to suggest that, out of consistency with these texts (and in light of Romans 13), a Christian should flip a coin or roll a dice in order to determine which presidential candidate to vote for?

Consider Psalm 78:62, in describing God’s response to the rebelliousness of his people Israel: “He gave his people over to the sword and vented his wrath on his heritage.” I once had a discussion with a friend about biblical interpretations and theology and what not, and at one point he said something that I’ll never forget. In response to the idea that God has wrath toward sinners, he commented, “You  know, I’ve just never seen this ‘God of wrath’ that everybody talks about in the Bible… I just don’t see it.” The reason I’ll never forget this is because the guy is so well-versed in the Scriptures, and somehow he doesn’t “see” the concept of wrath in God. The idea that my friend had never read Psalm 78:62 is out of the question – he’s read it. So the question is, how does one read a text like this and not see wrath as an aspect of God’s character?

It strikes me that, in Mark 3:5, Jesus is BOTH angry at the Pharisees’ response to his healing on the Sabbath, and grieved by the hard hearts from which their response came. The current atmosphere of politically-correctness in American public life seems to presuppose that these two reactions can’t exist together, that instead we must choose one or the other.

Paul is clearly addressing the issue of sexual immorality in the second half of 1 Corinthians 6. However, it seems like any discussion on the freedom and liberty of a Christian should be centered around Paul’s teaching in verse 12: “‘All things are lawful for me,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful for me,’ but I will not be dominated by anything.” Two good questions to ask of yourself when deciding whether to participate in a given action or activity: Is this good for me, and/or is this going to have mastery over me?

 

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