How 1 Corinthians 8 Speaks to America’s Divide
Yesterday, I wrote about how 1 Corinthians 8 changed my mind about yoga. The same chapter also speaks some wisdom into our country’s current plague of division.
For the past several years, I have observed some interesting developments. I have seen people become experts in many new fields through their internet research and careful study of news headlines, YouTube videos, Facebook memes, and blogs. I have seen people try to address the sin of racism while undermining and discounting the wonderful strides we have made in our country with race relations. I have seen one political side call Trump voters racist bigots and the other side call non-Trump voters libtards, Marxists, and baby killers. I have seen one side of the social justice philosophical spectrum lump all protesters together and make false accusations and assumptions about them, while those who were not extreme and violent called for more nuance and desired not to be put in the same box as Antifa. Just this week, I have observed some of those people fail to give the same nuance to those protesting at the Capitol. We continue going through the same cycle, putting people in boxes, making sweeping labels, calling people names, shutting down their voice and concerns, developing our beliefs through clickbait headlines and memes, and doubling down on the notion that we all have the right sources and the other side is misinformed.
I’m thankful for 1 Corinthians 8.
Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that “we all have knowledge.” Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. 2 If anyone thinks he knows anything, he does not yet know it as he ought to know it. 3 But if anyone loves God, he is known by him. 1 Corinthians 8:1-3 (CSB)
Verse 2 stands out to me. I think I know some things. We all think we know some things. Really, though, we don’t know anything fully. You think you know about election fraud, but you don’t really know that much. You think you know about racism, but you don’t really know that much. You think you know about climate change, but you don’t really know that much. You think you know about vaccines, but you don’t really know that much. You think you know about masks, but you don’t really know that much. Most likely, nobody who reads this is going to be an expert in any of those fields. Yet, we continue to pretend like we are. Do you know what this is called?
Even if you attain the level of “expert” in a field, have we forgotten that the “experts” disagree in every field of study known to man? There is no consensus on anything. ANYTHING. Not on masks, climate, vaccines, economics, racism, corruption, guns, elections, etc. NOBODY knows ANYTHING yet as they ought. Christians, more than anyone, should understand this.
8 Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will come to an end. 1 Corinthians 13:8-10 (CSB)
One day, I will know as I ought to when it is revealed to me in perfection by my all-knowing LORD. As for now, I only know in part. I only know partly who God is, who I am, what his plans are, what heaven and hell will be like, what the new earth will be like, or who will end up where. Not only that, but I don’t know whether the cure to COVID-19 will be worse than the disease. I don’t know whether a Democratic presidency, House, and Senate will accomplish all the progressive hopes and dreams. I don’t know whether it was better to have 4 years of Trump or 4 years of Clinton in the long run. I don’t know why each person is at each protest. I don’t know why each cop chooses to shoot each bullet. I don’t know whether a journalist is intentionally misleading. I don’t know whether I am being fed misinformation, whether the other side is being fed misinformation, or whether we are both being fed misinformation. I don’t know if the misinformation is coming from the other side or from a foreign party giving us both the runaround and laughing while we fall for their trap. I just don’t know much. Not much at all, really.
But…do you see what connects both 1 Corinthians 8:2 and 13:8?
Two passages about how little we know, both pointing us to humble ourselves and learn to love. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. Knowledge will come to an end, but love never ends. People in heaven and hell all have some knowledge. Only those in heaven have love for God, and only love can overcome evil.
21 Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good. Romans 12:21 (CSB)
We cannot overcome evil with knowledge. Or swords. Or guns. We can only overcome it with good. Or, in other words, with love. Our country does not need to be cleansed of Republicans or Democrats. It does not need to be cleansed of mainstream media or alternative media. It does not need to be cleansed of racists. It needs to be cleansed of pride. Our country needs repentance.
Unfortunately, we have almost no role models in American leadership who exemplify true humility and repentance. Until we can recognize that we don’t know much and start trying to listen and understand each other, we will continue to see hate, division, and violence. The protestors and rioters throughout the year turned to that conduct because they believed their voices were not being listened to and their concerns were important enough to fight for. The protestors and rioters at the Capitol turned to that conduct because they believed their voices were not being listened to and their concerns were important enough to fight for. Both sides are simply operating according to their belief systems, right or wrong.
It’s time to stop labeling people, calling them names, making assumptions about them, believing everything we hear and see about them, and turning them into the enemy. It’s time to stop acting like we’re experts on things we know little about.
It’s time to start loving others. Biblical love does not mean agreeing about everything. It does not mean accepting everyone’s conduct. It does not mean having all-inclusive churches. It does not mean abandoning the rule of law. It does, however, mean being quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger (James 1:19). It does mean turning the other cheek (Matthew 5:39). It does mean blessing those who persecute us (Romans 12:14). It does mean loving our enemies and praying for those who mistreat us (Matthew 5:44). It does mean treating people the way we would want to be treated (Matthew 7:12), giving them the same nuance we desire.
This is how we overcome evil. This is how 1 Corinthians 8 speaks to America’s divide.