By Robert Halsey Pine
“This is my rule in all the churches…Let each of you remain in the condition in which you were called. Were you a slave when called? Do not be concerned about it. Even if you can gain your freedom, make use of your present condition now more than ever. You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of human masters. In whatever condition you were called, brothers and sisters, there remain with God.” (1 Corinthians 7:17-23 NRSV).
St. Paul’s words here clear the decks. He is saying that there is absolutely no impediment to anyone that desires God and is called by Him. If we are truly seeking God, nothing can stop us. If we are truly seeking God, He will open His door to us and welcome us just the way we are. Seeking Him is the key and the only requirement. Our condition is where God is accepting us. He has no other expectation of us, save to seek His will and help Him work it out.
When God has called us, we don’t need to reflect on the Kenny Rogers/First Edition song, “Just Dropped In To See What Condition My Condition Was In.” We don’t need to qualify or validate our condition with God. We’re perfect just the way we are. We hear it said often that so-and-so lacks self-esteem. Self-esteem is not what is lacking. God esteem is what is lacking. It is our self-conceit that is the problem. If we respect God then we are respecting ourselves, the children of His creation. Our focus on our condition and our concern about our worth is a lack of faith in God.
We must be bold in our acceptance of God’s acceptance of us. We “become slaves of human masters” and forget the price that was paid for our salvation, the death of Christ on the Cross. We are to love our human brothers and sisters, but we are not to fear them. Fear motivates us in the natural world, but we cannot serve God out of worldly fear. Some of us hate our condition while others love our condition. Either way it is an impediment to our being called. It either keeps us from thinking that we are worthy or distracts us because we think that we have it good already.
Sometimes our shyness is actually self-conceit. We are embarrassed by the spotlight, but why? Because when the spotlight shines on us, we think we are in control and can’t stand the pressure. Let the light shine on God in us. He is in control and our own condition is irrelevant. We should represent Him and be proud of that.
Robert Halsey Pine was born at Newark, Ohio in 1943. He is a graduate of Northeastern University and completed the program of Theological Education by Extension: Education for Ministry, School of Theology, the University of the South.