The flight attendant wishes you well. You scoot out into the jetway, across the terminal and down to baggage claim. Just a couple of bags squirt out the chute onto the carousel. Wrong size; wrong color. Definitely not your luggage. You watch carefully as more suitcases and backpacks emerge. And that green one, that very first bag out of the chute, just keeps going around and around. Why hasn’t anybody claimed that one yet? We’re three deep all the way around this conveyor. Surely all passengers are present. Why doesn’t somebody snatch up that first bag and be on their way?
Well, what if it’s been left there on purpose? What if that bag contains the articles of a life someone has decided to turn away from? Couldn’t someone, in that moment, choose to start anew and abandon the baggage of their past?
Paul suggests that the Corinthians’ devotion to God and affection for the apostle ebb and flow because of ‘baggage.’ There was a time when the Corinthians had been a comfort to the company of missionaries. Once, there was longing, sorrow and concern for Paul. But now their hearts have slammed shut. Their affection has ground to a halt like a conveyor broken under the weight of too much ‘baggage.’ Unclean behavior, impure pursuits and unequal partnerships – that’s the baggage that needs to be abandoned at the carousel.
Every new believer coming out of the world and into the church has baggage. Habits, old behaviors that contradict the new call to holiness. Connections, old friendships that stand in stark contrast to the new friendship with Christ. Because of the transformation that Christ initiates in the heart, the saved lose their commonality, harmony, and agreement with the lost. But the transformation isn’t instantly complete. The spirit and the flesh will struggle in the pursuit of purity. So, how do we tilt the scale for the spirit to triumph over the sin nature? The text tells us – Remember who you are, and be separate.
You are righteous; you are light; you are a believer in Christ; the temple of the living God; a child of the Lord Almighty. Honor God with the connections you make. Live like you were tied to Jesus. And break ties with the ones who would set you back. Separate yourself from them. Identify your baggage, and then leave it running on that monotonous circuit to nowhere.
From now on, you are traveling light.
Pray: Father, help me to be patient with new Christians. They are still trying to leave their baggage behind. Help me to be genuine; admitting my own struggle to be pure, while demonstrating a consistent commitment to godly living. Help us all to prioritize holiness out of reverence for You.