Why on earth would I want to do that? What could possibly make me seek the good of the other rather than my own? That is not how the world works. When I fly on an airline, I try to check in early so I can get the best possible seat on the plane. Let a latecomer have the bad seat. America is all about competition, about using whatever advantage I have at my disposal to make it to the top.
Much of life is about accumulating advantages. My denomination's health plan negotiates rates with medical providers so that I get a cost advantage over someone without good insurance. If I have sufficient money, I have access to a different legal process than a poor person. And I don't want my taxes going to give that poor person the same advantages I have.
When Paul writes to the Christians in Corinth, he is upset with them because they take advantage of their "freedom in Christ" without regard for others. According to Paul, they fundamentally misunderstand what it means to be free a. It's not about being able to do what ever they want or whatever they like. Rather, they have been freed to become more Christ-like.
But that's not what freedom looks like to the Corinthians, or to very many present day Americans. Both groups tend to think that freedom makes us our own gods. We get to decide what is best; not anyone else. No one should be able to tell us what to do.
But we aren't gods. We are creatures, and creatures make terrible gods. When we attempt to be gods, we end up slaves to our wants and desires, easily manipulated by advertisers and cultural standards of success and achievement. No wonder so many of us are stressed out and worn ragged by such freedom. Bob Dylan got it right in the old song, "Gotta Serve Somebody."
You're gonna have to serve somebody,I think that on some level, many of us know this intuitively. Such knowing is in that question many have asked, "What am I supposed to do with my life?" "Supposed" is not about whatever I want. It's about what I am fitted for and meant for. It is about what God means for me, about discovering God's purpose for me. And Paul says that God's purpose is not just about me. It is also about the other.
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you're gonna have to serve somebody.
"Do not seek your own advantage, but that of the other" That can't be right, can it?
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