Russell and Duenes

2012: 1 Corinthians 7 and “As if Not”

with 3 comments

In 2011, God has given me many things for which to be abundantly grateful. My third son was born to us in March, I completed 10 years of teaching Bible at Redwood Christian Schools, I was accepted to law school and given a generous scholarship on top of it, my family and I were given a spacious house to rent here in Kansas, we were able to find a faithful, Bible-believing church as well, while making a few friends in the process. Most importantly, God has faithfully given us his presence and promises through all of it. My wife and I would not have made it through this first difficult semester of law school if God had not given us special grace, and probably the promise I have leaned on the most is the very simple one that many children learn: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”

So I head into 2012 grateful for all that God has done, and for the opportunity to continue my legal studies. My desire has always been to offer my legal practice up to Jesus for him to use as He sees fit. I want my practice to be an extension of the saving work that God is doing in me and in the world. To that end, God has impressed something upon me recently, which you may also find encouraging as you pursue your work in 2012. I have been translating through 1 Corinthians 7 and along with it, doing some reading in Gordon Fee’s wonderful commentary on the same. In the central thematic section of the chapter, the apostle Paul says something totally revolutionary:

“What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away” (1 Cor. 7:29-31).

Paul then goes on to relate this theme, specifically, to the issue of whether or not one should get married. However, it obviously applies to everything in life. And Fee comments on it in a particularly powerful way. He writes,

“What [Paul] is calling for is a radical new stance toward the world, predicated on the saving event of Christ that has marked off our existence in a totally new way. Just because one’s existence is determined by God, so now one does not so much live ‘detached’ from the world…as totally free from its control. Therefore, one lives in the world just as the rest – married, sorrowing, rejoicing, buying, making use of it – but none of these determines one’s life. The Christian is marked by eternity; therefore, he or she is not under the dominating power of those things that dictate the existence of others…Being eschatological people (i.e., people who live in the reality of our eternal life in Christ) is to free us from the grip of the world and its values. We are to live ‘as if not,’ that is, as fully in the world but not controlled by its systems or values. Such freedom, which comes only from Christ, removes from one the anxiety about which existence (married or single) is better…The answer again lies in our becoming eschatological people who live in the present with such a clear view of our certain future that we are free from such anxiety.” (Gordon Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, NICNT, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1987), pgs. 340-41, 348-49, emphases mine).

It is within this realm and reality of freedom that I want to live and work in 2012. I want to pursue my legal studies and my relationships  “with such a clear view of my certain future that I am free from anxiety.” I want to study the law and pursue excellence as an attorney “as though not engrossed in it,” to use the things of this world “as if they were not mine to keep,” and in the words of Jim Elliot, to give “that which I cannot keep to gain that which I cannot lose.” I’m not totally clear on what this looks like in practical terms, but I trust that it requires a certain self-forgetfulness and other-centeredness for which I will need Christ’s constant grace and power. It requires regular and sustained meditation on the future glories that await those in Christ. It requires me to subsume my own personal lusts for recognition, advancement, and power to the greater satisfactions of doing the will of God from a sincere faith and a pure heart. It most certainly means that I must repent of my desire to always be well-esteemed by others. May it be so, Lord. Soli Deo Gloria.



Written by Michael Duenes

December 31, 2011 at 8:07 am

3 Responses

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  1. D, I think one reason I love reading your blog is that our lives have a lot of parallels right now (although I won’t go into them online). I want to live that way this year, too. And speaking of that, I need to get an inspiring commentary or something, because I’m having a good deal of trouble committing to regular scripture reading.


    December 31, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    • Samson – I appreciate your readership and your always thoughtful comments. Hopefully we will be as “iron sharpening iron.” Regular Scripture reading is indeed tough when one is pinched for time, as I gather you and I are. I would throw one recommendation your way: Check out D.A. Carson’s books, “For the Love of God” (There are two volumes). They give you daily Scriptures to read and provide a very insightful commentary on a portion of that day’s Scripture. I’ve used them in the past and found them encouraging.


      russell and duenes

      December 31, 2011 at 3:42 pm

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