1Cor 1-4 Romans gave us a theological discussion on salvation, unity, and service. Today we begin the walkthrough 1Corinthians. “This book provides a glimpse of life inside a first-century church.
Of all the churches that Paul birthed, loved, and tended, the Corinthian church had by far the most eye to eye contact and teaching than any other. He challenges them in three areas: their calling, contentions, and commitment.
The Corinthians were called of God, enriched in Jesus Christ, and did not lack any spiritual gift. They should boast in the Lord for the work He has done. However, Paul noted that there were divisions in the church, with some leaning towards following Paul, others Apollos, and others Cephas. He reminded them they should seek unity, not divisions; unity is key to a prosperous and functioning church. Thirdly, Paul reminded them that they were not a stumbling block to either the Jew or the Greek seeking. Always Christ should be pre-eminent in all they do and how they live for the world is watching.
To be called is a great honor. As God calls you, may you live as men/women of Christ; the world sees and desires His calling. May our testimony reveal that we live and work in our churches with a unified spirit. Lastly, may we present Christ that others may desire Him and Him alone.
Joshua 22 It has been seven long years since the tribes who had received land on the east of the Jordan. These tribes made a promise, and they kept it to.the.letter.! Joshua reminded them that their faithfulness is worthy of reward. As they neared the crossing of the Jordan, they stopped and built an impressive altar. God didn’t require it; Joshua didn’t require it. It was something they decided to do on their own. It wasn’t wrong to do it, but soon rumors flew ‘back home,’ and it became a stumbling block. How often do others misunderstand our motives and emotions lead rather than the head?
They jumped to the only conclusion before them; they were apostatizing! They needed discipline! That happens to us as well, and it is then that a level headed person is necessary to quell the outcry. Phinehas wisely said wait a minute; let’s go to find out about this altar.
While rumors are flying, the two and a half tribes were rejoicing! So Phinehas and ten leaders presented their conclusion while the altar builder’s hearts fell into the pit of their stomachs. But in quietness and humility, they began to explain that they built a memorial not an altar of sacrifice.
How do you respond when you are right before God but others see it differently? Matthew 18 tells us to go one on one to determine what the truth is. Before you are gearing for war, hear the other side out.
The church at Corinth was birthed under Paul but now left to their own they have become divided into Paul camps and Apollo camps. This is a warning to us about this happening to our churches and even para-church organizations. No matter how it comes about, know this; these “holy huddles’ divide. As Paul hears about this, his heart is grieved. This is the sin that grieves not only us but more importantly the Holy Spirit.
Paul’s response to the Corinthians goes something like this: you still are acting and reacting as if you never met Christ or were made righteous! You are behaving like one who is unregenerate and the evidence is front and center. This is not evidence of one who has a relationship with Christ and has become righteous, sanctified and redeemed!
Fast forward to today. If Paul could come to our local body of believers would he see the same thing? Listen to yourself, listen to your fellow congregants and see for yourself. Are we guilty of putting the pastor on a pedestal and not Christ? What happens when one of the church staff falls from grace? That very action reveals where our priorities were and are. Some of those who were followers of that person may also fall away too because they focused on them not Christ who became for us wisdom from God.
How does this happen? We need to look no further than what Paul noted. It happens when we revert to fleshy actions and attitudes. It should be a reminder of what Jesus told Peter: “You are a stumbling block to me because you are not setting your mind on God’s interest but man’s.” [Matt 16]
We have heard it said over and over and over: you are judging. Now to be sure there are times when we are to judge and to judge righteously when we discern doctrinal error. However, in this chapter, Paul over and over and over is trying to get our attention that when we judge or criticize another’s spiritual walk we have crossed the no-man’s zone of hypocrisy.
Paul asks “who are you to judge the servant of another?” and “why do you judge your brother?” And in the context of this discussion, Paul is referring to three non-essentials of food, days and drink. Some insist we must follow the Feasts of Israel and another says no. One says it is OK for me to drink wine but another comes alongside and says no you shouldn’t do that. Another says I celebrate Christmas and another says that is a pagan holiday and you shouldn’t celebrate it.
Beloved, NOT one of these will keep us from heaven’s door but alone or together our attitude and our words may cause a brother/sister to stumble in their walk with Jesus. The problem is us not them.We have this urge to change others rather than accepting them as they are. Instead of a gentle quiet spirit, we become a gonging cymbal as we beat our drum of “no, no, no” all the while forgetting two essentials:
We all will stand before God to give an accounting
We will give an account of every idle word we have spoken
What we need to remember is that God looks not on the outward man as we do but on the heart. Let’s let God do the judging regarding these areas. We are not to be a stumbling block but a solution lest we scar hearts God has already healed.