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July 13, 2014

Love Builds Up

1 Corinthians 8

Some elementary schools in Washington State are no longer permitted to celebrate birthdays with cupcakes. The new policy was enacted by the Edmond School District's wellness committee and immediately brought controversy to a rather benign tradition. The committee's goal is to ensure that students in their district practice healthy eating habits. Michelle Mathis, an elementary school principal, stated, "We want to celebrate the child and not the sweets." The committee is encouraging parents to use nonfood alternatives for birthday celebrations, such as party-favor gifts and extra recess time. Other school districts in the Edmond area have a policy recommending healthy treats, but they have not banned cupcakes. Richard Martinson, an area resident who opposes this change, said, "It's a little bit of fun that makes school more bearable, and now it's gone."

For the benefit of the Corinthian Christians, Paul addressed what types of foods were acceptable to eat, not as it applied to their physical wellness but to their spiritual wellness. The apostle made it clear that the Corinthians were free to eat food offered to idols since those were not gods and had no power. However, he also stated that they would need to be careful how they expressed their freedom. Some believers were wrestling with eating the meat" because they were used to idol worship until now" (1 Corinthians 8:7), so Paul instructed the others to be careful not to hurt those who had a problem with eating meat offered to idols.

God calls us to care for our sisters and brothers because we are the body of Christ, and as such we are called to live life together. This responsibility calls us to look for ways to build up and encourage others in their walk with the Lord instead of exhibiting behavior that might jeopardize their faith.

  1. What do you think of the no-cupcake policy in the Edmond School District? What other options might you recommend?
  2. Why do you think Paul asks the "stronger" believers to care for the "weaker" believers? By following Pau'ls admonitions, how would both groups benefit?
  3. What issues does the church wrestle with today that may be similar to the issue the Corinthian church faced?

Reverend Lou Hornberger is the pastor of Salem United Methodist Church in Orwigsburg, Pennsylvania.

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