“[T]he appointed time has grown short; from now on, let even those who have wives be as though they had none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no possessions, and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away” (1 Corinthians 7:29-31).
This passage from Corinthians was a part of this morning’s lectionary. Interpretations of the passage have traditionally focused on verse 29, “The appointed time has grown short.” Paul did, indeed, believe that the world was in its final days at the time he was writing; and people in every generation since have been convinced that the verse was speaking directly to them.
And it may well have been. After all, time is simply a construct of the dualistic world in which we spend these human lives. (Woody Allen once helpfully explained that ‘time’ is nature’s way of keeping everything from happening at once.) So we can shorten it or lengthen it as we choose.
No, I think the final sentence in this passage is most clearly reflective of spiritual Truth. “The present form of this world” is always passing away, since the only certainty is change. We may try to hang on to ‘present forms,’ and the only result will be a kind of spiritual rope burn as present forms shift, dissolve and move inexorably forward. Those who would prevent us from moving forward – or even try to move us backward – don’t really need to be defeated; the flow of infinite Good cannot be thwarted in any way. If we merely hold firm to our spiritual Truth, we will be perfectly comfortable and joyfully blessed every time the present forms change yet again.
I notice the changing forms of this world with confidence and enthusiasm, certain that my spiritual Truth will ensure that I AM always safely centered in my spiritual Self.