Six days you shall work, but on the seventh day you shall rest. - Exodus 34:21
Paul wrote: You were bought by Christ at a price; do not become slaves of human beings. - 1 Corinthians 7:23
Two-year reading texts: Psalm 16:1-6; 1 Chronicles 21:1-26; Acts 15:6-18
Paul the apostle covers a lot of topics in his letters to the church in Corinth. His main goal is to remind all the different members of this fractured, fractious church that they are actually one in Christ. Their divisions and boasting and criticism are problems serious enough to be confronted and corrected. Each member of the body needs to be honored and built up, so that the whole body can be stronger and healthier.
In the section of 1 Corinthians today's New Testament verse comes from, Paul wants people to put devotion to Christ first - even to the point of not getting married if they're able to remain single. (It's not that marriage is sinful, but that concern for what a spouse wants could compromise our concern for what God wants.) And Paul says that it's not important what status or "social location" we have. Instead of striving for human approval or prestige, we can live fully wherever we are. In Christ, we can honor the full diversity of human nature, knowing that we're all made in God's image, all loved and forgiven and saved by the grace of God, all valuable and useful for building one another up.
Today's verse is Paul's wrap-up of this section. I love the language "You were bought with a price," which reminds us of God's great love for each of us, the cost Christ paid with his life, and the paradox of our simultaneous freedom and submission to Christ. In the previous verse, he says, "Whoever was called in the Lord as a slave is a freed person belonging to the Lord, just as whoever was free when called is a slave of Christ."
In truth, we all belong to Christ. We serve him. We are honored by that service. Human divisions don't make any difference in God's eyes. Each person is loved and valued "as is" and made holy by God's grace in Christ. Everybody matters in him. And that's what matters most of all.
Today, a couple of songs by Lutheran musicians come to mind. So here are some musical takes on a similar theme:
"As Is" by Peder Eide
"Everybody Matters" by Lost and Found