Scripture: 1 Corinthians 7:25-31
Key verses: (29-31) 29 I mean, brothers and sisters, the appointed time has grown short; from now on, let even those who have wives be as though they had none, 30and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no possessions, 31and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away.
Reflection: Paul writes his letter to the Corinthians in a particular point in history. The early church of Jesus Christ was struggling to survive and grow, and remain faithful, while waiting for whatever would happen next. Paul expected the return of Jesus in glory at any moment. Instead, within half a century Jerusalem would be destroyed. The present form of the world Paul and the Corinthians knew was indeed passing away, though perhaps not in the way any of them expected.
Isn’t that true for us too? Whether it’s great political historical shifts, or more personal end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it shifts, things change. We can’t know what will happen next. And though we might try to prepare and be ready, doing so is all really a guess. That might make us crazy and hopeless, if we let it. When we feel completely at the mercy of random events, or the whims of fate, it is hard to be faithful and cheery.
But Paul’s ultimate point here, and all of scripture’s main message, is not hyper-focused on the end of the world. The take-home point is that, in Christ, God is doing something in history — something that changes everything. The kingdom of God has begun in Jesus. Such a truth enables us to face change and distress in faith that nothing can separate us from the love of God. It urges us to work towards a more just and righteous kingdom here on earth today, as we seek to love God and our neighbors. And it teaches us to look in confidence toward the day to come when God’s kingdom will be fully realized. If the present form of this world is passing away, and it’s the end of the world as we know it, we know that God is still God. God’s kingdom is still “already and not yet”. And there is yet more grace to come. Let’s be faithful followers together in the meantime.
Prayer: Lord, when all seems unsettled and changing, help me trust in you. When it seems like the end of the world as I know it, help me trust in you. When I don’t know what the future holds, help me trust in you. I know who holds the future. It’s in the strong name of Jesus I pray. Amen.
Author: Julie Hester
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].