In 1 Corinthians, Paul writes to the churches in the region of Corinth about their life in the Church. This week the lectionary reading covers 1 Corinthians 8.1-13. He talks about the people who were eating food sacrificed to idols and how this practice affects people new to the faith. Paul notes how there is only one living God, so idols are meaningless. If they don't believe in those idols, there isn't really a problem, right? Not quite. If people who are mature in their faith do things that cause others to stumble, Paul says this hurts the body of Christ.
For this particular community at this certain time in this specific place, Paul wants to let the believers know that their actions have consequences that affect others. What we take away from this--many years later and far, far away--is a mindfulness of how our lives build up or break down the Church. "Therefore if food is a cause of their falling, I will never eat meat, so that I may not cause one of them to fall." (v. 13) Paul is not saying he would become a vegetarian for ethical reasons as much as he is saying the health of the Church is more important than the freedom to eat meat that was sacrificed to idols.
There are some followers of Christ today who value freedom to do what they want over the effect those actions have on the Church. What they say, what they do, whom they associate with, and how they treat others all have an affect on the Church. Even if they believe those actions won't turn them away from God, Paul reminds us that those less mature in their faith might not fare off as well. Friends, may we act, pray, speak, and live in a way that builds up God's people, mindful of our unity to the body of Christ.