You Really Can't Always Have Your Cake and Eat It Too

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It seems silly to say that a particular passage of Scripture is “interesting” since they all are. But at the risk of “silly” this morning’s reading is interesting (and necessary).

And the end of 2 Corinthians 6, Paul warns his audience about the need to remove themselves from their old pattern of life as it has to do with idol worship. Traditionally the verse, “Come out from them and be separate” (6:17) is often applied to things like our relationships with people who are not believers. There are other passages that speak to that issue. Though this verse can be applied to relationships with unbelievers, Paul is actually warning the Corinthians that they can’t continue to worship idols and try to worship the true God at the same time.

Here the emphasis is not separation from the people who don't know the Lord but separation from the practices of the people who do not know the Lord.

As Chapter 7 begins, Paul says: “Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God” (7:1).

The promises refer to God’s presence among them (6:16-18), to having God live, walk, embrace, and be a father to them. Every space in us becomes God’s space as we commit ourselves to this purification process. We commit to the process out of our reverence for God, The more seriouslt we take the process the more we experience the reality of having One who lives with us, walks with us, embraces us and treats us as a father treats his children.

“But I don’t worship idols!” Our idols may not look like those Paul was referring to: the statues of stone or wood of the ancient world. But we may revere a person or persons as much or more than we do God. It could be a project, a possession, or a position. We practice as unbelievers even though we are believers. And that is what Paul is warning the Corinthians and us about.

If we want to know the full reality of having God live, walk, embrace and father us, we have to consciously work at letting go of the “cheap imitations” of God that clutter our lives and embrace the “real thing” wholeheartedly.


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