It was 1989 when my parents, my brother, and I decided to follow Jesus. We didn’t know it at the time, but our decision isolated our family from most of our relatives and friends. All of a sudden, our grandparents weren’t welcoming us to their house any longer, our relatives stopped inviting us to their parties, and our friends began to make fun of us. This was a very tough season for my family, and we didn’t know how to react or what to do in order to be accepted. But we weren’t the only ones. In 1990, in Mexico, less than 5% of the population was Protestant and most evangelicals back then shared similar experiences to ours. I know it sounds terrible, but as I recall, it wasn’t as bad as it sounds. Certainly, our social lives were drastically changed as we became “Hermanos” but God opened up our lives to new and exciting things and relationships. God provided for us a new family and a new group of friends within His people who taught us the fundamentals of how to live as disciples of Jesus. I’m grateful that God put people willing to spiritually invest in us during those formative years of our walking with Christ.

I’m sure that since I was living in a different social context than you, my experience may be completely different from yours, in the same way, that both our experiences may differ from the experience of the members of the first-century Corinthian church. To begin with, the Corinthian believers were the first of their kind, and they lived in one of the most promiscuous and pagan cities in Greece. In Corinth, marriage was nothing more than a simple transaction and the divorce rates were very high. On top of that, about 70% of the Corinthian population lived as slaves. So, most likely some within the Corinthian church members were former pagans, who may have gone through divorce or remarriage, and who most likely lived under the oppression of slavery. It’s without a doubt that the Corinthian church members were trying to live their new lives in Christ under unthinkable social pressure.

As you can imagine, it didn’t take long for some of them to consider using some of their new beliefs as a justification to react socially. The slaves wanted freedom, the married wanted a divorce, the Jewish believers wanted the Gentiles believers to get circumcised, and so on. To all of this, the apostle Paul responded that they should remain in the situation they were in when God called them (1 Cor. 7:20, NIV). Paul’s words to this first-generation church challenged them to embrace and invest themselves in their spiritual transformation instead of trying to change their social circumstances on their own. For God is more interested in transforming our hearts than in changing our social reality.

Esteban Tapia
Pastor of Spanish Language Ministries

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