Samuel and Younghee are on the staff at Word of Life Jeju. Younghee is the chef who feeds the students good Korean food, and Samuel represents the Bible Institute in the churches all over the island. They had me over to their apartment for some of Samuel’s home brewed coffee and Younghee’s famous Korean pancakes (not a breakfast pancake, but a dessert called Hotteok, a flour pancake filled with almonds, walnuts, cinnamon, and brown sugar). As we enjoyed fresh strawberries, the sweet pancakes, and the dark coffee, my Korean friends shared with me about Korean hunting.
It’s not taking your .30-06 rifle and getting a white tail deer in the crosshairs. It’s going out into the countryside and hunting for wild vegetables. Koreans don’t own guns, and their idea of hunting is not killing wild game, but foraging. So when I’m teaching in Korea, how do you think a story about my latest deer hunting in Texas would go over to illustrate biblical passages teaching about patience, purpose, and focus?
Yesterday, I asked you to think about whether or not Paul was being hypocritical when he championed non-circumcision in the debates at the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15) and yet look what he did to Timothy, a young man with a Jewish mom and a Greek dad, to prepare him to join their mission team in Acts 16.
“Paul wanted Timothy to come with them as part of his missionary team. So he took and circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in the area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek.” Acts 16:3
According to statements in the Mishnah that go back to the early-second century, Timothy would have been considered Jewish because his mother was Jewish. Paul didn’t want the problem of an uncircumcised Jew dogging them as they ministered from one synagogue to the next. This was a cultural issue, so he had Timothy circumcised.
Titus, another associate, was a Gentile, and Paul insisted that he not be circumcised. In Titus’ case the truth of the Gospel was at stake and Paul was as unbendable as a steel beam (Galatians 2:3). Flexible about culture. Unbendable about doctrine.
So for these days in S. Korea, no Texas hunting stories. Instead, I tell them about my granddaughters foraging in the woods of Connecticut.
LORD, help me to carefully track what you are teaching in both Acts and Galatians so that I will know when life and death issues of doctrine are at stake, or when it’s only a cultural issue where I need to be flexible.
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