We have considered the abundant benefits that we derive from Jesus’ sacrifice, benefits that we receive by faith, symbolized in the Supper. While not leaving the benefits, we now turn to two responsibilities that our privileges impose on us, both related to the unity of Christ’s body.
Three passages attract our attention initially, from 1 Cor 10.16-17; Eph 2.13; and Col 1.20. In 1 Cor 10.16-17 we are drawing to the conclusion of Paul’s lengthy discussion of Christian liberty (chapters 8–10). Before we take up the verses that are of particular interest, we need to define that liberty briefly. Customarily we think of liberty as our right to do whatever we want. But a little reflection alerts us that no such liberty exists. We know that liberty only exists within limits. Then what does Paul mean in 1 Cor 9.19 when he says he is “free from all men”?
For brevity’s sake, we summarize what he says in 9.19-23. Liberty only exists within the limits of responsibility. Responsibility exists within the confines of goals. The goal Paul has is to draw all people to Christ. This goal imposes on him responsible action. He is responsible to Christ, responsible to the needs and requirements of anyone he wishes to draw to Christ. So, we may define Christian liberty as our responsibility to adapt our behavior for the spiritual good of others.
These ideas set the context for the discussion of 1 Cor 10.16-17.