Our study last Sunday profiled two types of people: the morally weak and the morally strong.
There are two types of morally “weak” people: those with a lack of conscience, and those with too sensitive of a conscience. Both weaknesses manifest a deep insecurity of one’s importance. As a result, you deal with that insecurity by forgoing “measuring up”, or you become obsessed with “measuring up.”
Then there are the “strong”: those whose identity is “gospel” centered, meaning, that they have entrusted their identity to Christ’s accomplishments and not their own.
In his conversation with the Corinthians it seems that the “strong” wanted Paul to set the record straight by encouraging the weak to overcome their qualms about food sacrificed to idols and enter the world of spiritual freedom enjoyed by those who possess “knowledge.”
But instead of taking sides, Paul critiques the attitude of the strong towards the weak. He writes: (1 Cor 8:1b) “We know that we all possess knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.”
Here’s what we talked about on Sunday...
What does receptivity and inclusion look like with a “weak” someone whose behavior and views are disagreeable, offensive, and exclusionary? Is inclusion possible with someone with exclusionary views? How can a “strong” person be receptive of the “weak” without being judgmental (condescending, “puffed up”)? Is it even possible to judge without being judgmental? Or is exclusion simply unavoidable - in all its overt and subtle forms (e.g., assimilation)?
Doesn’t take much to ignite a firestorm of arrogant comments in the echo chambers of social media, eh?
Paul writes in Rom 5:1-3, “1We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. 2 Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. 3 For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.”
The gospel teaches us that Christ has traded his moral “credit score” with ours. To the degree we trust this - and not simple know this - we will be able to:
- Judge others as “weak” without being judgmental (arrogant) about it. - since we know that we haven’t lifted a finger to earn our “stronger” position.
- Be in relationship with the weak (“bear with the failings of the weak”) - since the “strongest” person in the cosmos chose to “bear” (accept, be in relationship) with our own weakness.
This is a form of radical inclusion - only made possible by God’s radical inclusion of us. To the degree we trust the gospel, can our arrogance be humbled enough to pull this off.