March 21, Tuesday

The AMI QT Devotionals from March 20-26 are provided by Pastor David Kwon of Journey Community Church in Raleigh, North Carolina.  

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT FOR TODAY

Church Controversies

1 Corinthians 11:2-16

Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you. But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, but every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, since it is the same as if her head were shaven. For if a wife will not cover her head, then she should cut her hair short. But since it is disgraceful for a wife to cut off her hair or shave her head, let her cover her head. For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10 That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; 12 for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God. 13 Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a wife to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair it is a disgrace for him, 15 but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering. 16 If anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do the churches of God.

Today’s passage is difficult to interpret, and the temptation might be to look at what Paul says in the opening verses of 1 Corinthians 11 as entirely cultural, and as a result, dismiss what he is saying.  Without denying the text’s complexities, we can begin with what is clear in today’s passage.

  1. First, on the basis of the creation account as well as the dynamic of the marriage relationship, Paul explains that gender distinction does in fact matter. And though men and women are different, they are still interdependent. Neither inherently occupies a more important role in the church. In fact, Paul does not challenge here the practice of women praying and prophesying in the church. He wants to ensure, however, that they do so in suitable and unique ways.
  1. Women whose heads are uncovered while they pray (the original Greek language here suggests not that she lacks an actual veil, but that her hair falls loosely on her shoulders) would resemble women praying in the pagan temples, where they did so with their hair unbound. This actually had serious implications, because women whose hair was not bound up might be mistaken for the equivalent of temple prostitutes. Thus, the discussion here about head coverings is consistent with the earlier exhortations regarding sexual immorality and Christian freedom in the earlier chapters of 1 Corinthians. Just as he has in many other places in his letter, Paul is identifying the church as unique and separate from the world. Here is what one commentator says about these verses:

“Women’s hair was a common object of lust in antiquity, and in much of the eastern Mediterranean women were expected to cover their hair. To fail to cover their hair was thought to provoke male lust as a bathing suit is thought to provoke it in some cultures today. Head covering prevailed in Jewish Palestine (where it extended even to a face veil) and elsewhere, but upper-class women eager to show off their fashionable hairstyles did not practice it. Thus Paul must address a clash of culture in the church between upper-class fashion and lower-class concern that sexual propriety is being violated. (That Greeks bared their heads for worship and Romans covered them might also be significant, given the dual affiliation of Corinth as a Greek and Roman city. But because this custom was not divided along gender lines, it is probably irrelevant here.)” – Keener, C. S. (1993). The IVP Bible background commentary: New Testament (1 Co 11:2–16).

  1. S. Lewis once noted that Christians need to distinguish between social and cultural norms that change in different times and places (he gave the example of modesty in Victorian England and the Polynesian Islands), and biblical principles that are true in all times and places (for example, chastity).

Here is a challenge for us today: are you willing to give up a preference for the sake of church unity and the advancement of the gospel?  This morning, let’s pray that we would desire unity (over our own preferences) in our churches so that the gospel can be furthered advanced.

Prayer: Lord, thank You for challenging texts, because it helps us think deeper about our faith and what we believe.  May we set aside our differences and preferences for the sake of the advancement of the gospel.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Matthew 10


LUNCH BREAK STUDY

Acts 2:42-47: And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Questions to Consider:

  1. How does Luke describe the early church?
  2. What were the components of unity amongst the believers?
  3. In looking at the early church, how should we pray for our respective churches today?

Notes:

  1. Powerful and unified. They were devoted to one another and the Holy Spirit was in the midst of their gathering.
  2. They were devoted to the Word, breaking of bread (communion), and one another. These are the same components that make the church unified today.
  3. We should pray for unity, power and evangelism in our churches today. Pray that Holy Spirit’s power would be so evident, that even those who are outside of the faith would see the work of God in the midst of His people as they gather and worship.

EVENING REFLECTION

How has the Lord spoken to you today?  Take some time in quiet reflection.  With an open heart and attentive ears, ask Him to speak to you.

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