Today’s readings are Nehemiah 8 and 1 Corinthians 5:1-13
Disgrace within the church
Today’s reading from 1 Corinthians deals with a case of sexual immorality within the Corinthian church. It involved a member of the congregation who had been engaged in sexual relations with his father’s wife. This was probably a case of a step relationship but nevertheless was truly shocking. Paul adds that it is a relationship that not even the pagan society of the time would tolerate. That this should be taking place within the fellowship of those who followed Christ is truly reprehensible and he does not mask his disgust. He calls for the expelling of the man in question. Further he raises that fact that the Corinthians themselves because of this man’s status, (he was one who had earned the applause of others) his behaviour was not brought under sanction (New Bible Commentary p1168). He assures them of his presence in spirit and exhorts them to have nothing to do with the sexually immoral. They are not to even associate or eat with people such as these. They are to have nothing to do with such wicked people.
For us the message is clear, not just wicked people but wicked behaviour, images, thoughts, all must be consigned to the fire. It is easy to tolerate by degrees is it not? We must be on our guard at all times.
The situation in Corinth must have been chaotic. For the young congregation, they faced a perilous task. Living in such a place and even worse sinful and wicked behaviour within. Paul’s letter delivered to them must have come as a shocking inditement.
A new beginning
The Nehemiah passage celebrates the spiritual restoration of the community. It is not just enough for bricks and mortar (Ch 7) nor is it simply people, but a people ‘which has experienced God’s redemption and renewal, a people to whom is entrusted the law of God, who recognise their dependence (Ch 9) upon him and who are fully committed to a life of faithful obedience (Ch10)…’
Great encouragement indeed!