Daily reading: 14 March

So, my loved ones, run away from worshipping idols. 

Something to read

So the person who thinks that they are standing secure should look out that they don't fall. For the only temptation that has seized you is of the human sort. God can be trusted; God will not let you be tempted beyond what you can manage. No – along with the temptation, God will also give you the successful outcome, the ability to bear up. So, my loved ones, run away from worshipping idols. I am talking to people who know: you can make up your own minds about what I'm saying.

1 Corinthians 10:12–15

Something to think about

This reading comes from a point in Paul's first letter to his rather fractious Corinthians, when he is trying to persuade them not to shock their fellow Christians by appearing to worship false gods.

Some of them have upset others by visiting temples in Corinth and participating in festive meals there whose function was to honour the god of that particular temple. Now if their fellow-Christians saw them eating those meals, they would be alienated and horrified.

Others had been buying meat sold in the market that had been sacrificed to various gods (it was a cheap way of getting protein). And it was no use for them to argue that 'we all know that these gods don't exist – so we can't possibly be worshipping them'.

The fact is that their actions implicitly denied the existence of the real God. So Paul is trying to make sure that what they do squares with what they believe, and will not allow them to argue that 'everyone does it – there is no harm in it'. And we notice that he is not laying down the law, but forcing them to decide for themselves: 'you can make up your own minds about what I'm saying'.

Something to do

Listen to Paul talking to those first century Christians, and try to imagine what it was like for other members of the community to see them socialising in the temples of false gods. Is there anything in your life today that might lead people to suppose that you worship something that is not the real God? If so, what is the Lord asking you to do about it today?

Something to pray

Loving God,
we know that our actions
don't always square with our beliefs;
we ask that our lives
may be more and more shaped by you,
and centred upon you,
especially during these days of Lent.
Teach us what you would like us to change,
during our journey to Easter,
and give us the grace to do it.

Today's contributor is Nicholas King, a Jesuit priest, scholar and author who teaches the New Testament at Oxford University.