In preparing the lessons for next week, I admit to a bit of dread at having to work through 1 Cor. 7. But once I got into the chapter (you know what’s coming), it was a thrill. Especially this passage, verses 29-31:
And I say this, brothers and sisters: The time is short. So then those who have wives should be as those who have none, those with tears like those not weeping, those who rejoice like those not rejoicing, those who buy like those without possessions, those who use the world as though they were not using it to the full. For the present shape of this world is passing away.
I can’t say it’s my favorite (Don’s choice has been an old favorite as well), but it is a new passage that has taken on great meaning to me. First, because it’s poetic, lyrical language is just right for the sentiment it expresses.
Second, it expresses in a profound way what I often feel about this world, even if I’m not the best at its practice: a sense of that distance from this world’s activities in light of the approaching end.
Third, it reminds me of Eccl. 3 in a roundabout way. There, there is a time for everything. Here, though the whole approach and thought is different, there is no time for any of this. These belong to the passing order, to the universe which dissolves already in its turning, to the hard, definite shapes which blur before our eyes as they fade into nothingness. The tears dry because the reason for crying already is forgotten; the laughter ceases with the quick expiration of the mirth. This world’s doing and going and being are too little for such eternal souls. This ephemeral planet cannot hold up the weight of celestial yearnings and strivings and reachings.
A new set of circumstances will not make things better, Paul tells us in chapter 7, so just stay where you are. Until that door swings wide at angels’ trumpets and that great cloud of witnesses jumps to its feet to welcome home the souls of those who held all things on earth lightly, tentatively, and loosely, knowing that reality was not in these, nor true satisfaction.