His ask is so radical, but Paul’s reasoning is so logical. Hovering over a few verses in 1Corinthians 6 this morning and thinking about the church.
Situation: when one brother has a grievance against another. A dispute needing to be settled. Apparently involving some monetary, material, or contractual disagreement. That was the situation, but that wasn’t the problem. After all, stuff’s gonna happen within a family. Every community’s going to have its share of conflict. That there were grievances was just a situation. The problem was how those in the church at Corinth opted to resolve those grievances.
So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers? To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded?
(1Corinthians 6:4-7 ESV)
What seems to be an issue of such magnitude that Paul would address it in his letter, likely comes across as a non-issue to our modern, cultural mindset. Of course you go to court to deal with matters you can’t resolve yourself. A no brainer that if someone’s cheated you, that you leverage the judicial system to bring about justice. Absurd to think that you’d submit yourself to the church’s oversight, or other wise and trusted brothers and sisters in the church, to let them be the arbiter of a final outcome.
Radical? Perhaps. Logical? Apparently. Paul just saw it as the natural implication of their supernatural destination.
When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life!
(1Corinthians 6:1-3 ESV)
We’re gonna judge the world. How come we can’t judge ourselves? We’re gonna determine the outcome of angels in heaven? Why can’t we figure out a fair solution among ourselves here on earth? We are ambassadors in a foreign land of unbelievers, why air our dirty laundry before them? We have eternal riches awaiting us, why fight among ourselves over earthly goods? Radical? Yup. But, at least in theory, doesn’t it ring true?
Seems to me the greater principle here is not about lawsuits, but about living into who we are as the people of God. Knowing who we are in Christ, we then purpose to conduct ourselves in a manner consistent with being in Christ. Not just as individuals, but as a local church, as well. As the community of believers. As the family of God. As the body of Christ. Willing, for the sake of our collective testimony, to step outside the prevailing cultural mindset. Even if it means submitting to the church, willing to abide by it’s discernment. Even it that means being swindled by a brother and leaving it to the Lord to adjudicate the situation in His time.
Sure, all predicated on us, as individuals and as a church, not just knowing the word of God but whole-heartedly committed to living by the word of God. Founded on living in such authentic community that we trust the community. Only possible though, as our jealousy for the reputation of Christ compels us to take a risk and wholly trust in Christ.
Lawsuits, just one example of living into who we are in Christ, both as individuals and as the church.
Radical? Yeah, no doubt. But logical? I’m thinkin’ . . .
Only possible by His grace. But wouldn’t it be such an amazing witness for His glory?