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To the Church

. 5 min read

14-15
Jan 2017, Christ Mountain Top
Psalm
40.1-11 (call to worship)
John
1.29-42 (kids)
1
Corinthians 1.1-9 (message)
The
Greek word for church, ekklesia, 2
main uses that inform
1.    
LXX, for Israel gathered as people of God
2.    
Greece, for gathering of the city-state to conduct their
affairs, the “body politic”
Three
implications:
1.    
We are God’s, therefore to live “godly” (like God) in
character and behavior
2.    
We are One, that is, we have a common destiny and identity,
despite whatever differences exist
3.    
We are a political body, in the sense that the “kingdom of
God” is a political term, which calls for loyalty and for action in a world
that is not necessarily aligned with the purpose of God’s kingdom or realm
1
Corinthians 1:2
 To the church of God
that is in Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be [God’s
holy people].
      Often enough, however, we fail to live up
to who God has called us to be. Listen in to the situation in Corinth:
1.    
Godly: 1 Corinthians 5:1  It is actually reported that there is sexual
immorality among you, and of a kind that is not found even among pagans
2.    
One: 1 Corinthians 3:3  For as long as there is jealousy and
quarreling among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving according to human
inclinations?
3.    
Political … in a positive sense? No, instead it is in all
the negative senses. Instead of alignment around the purpose of God’s kingdom
on earth, they are promoting factions, promoting themselves. 1 Corinthians
12:21-22
 The eye cannot say to the
hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet,
“I have no need of you.”  On
the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable.
~ However, this is exactly what they are doing to each other.

Class
on the “Tone of Leadership”:
      Jan Cope, National Cathedral
            Muslim prayer service – death threats,
Christian reactions
            Inaugural prayer service – reaction by
Christians on the left
“Cheer
up church”, Charlie Peacock
Cheer
up, Church
You’re worse off than you think
Cheer up, Church
You’re standing at the brink
Don’t despair
Do not fear
Grace is near
When
we talk about politics in the church, it is easy for us to be drawn into the
conversation of what is happening in Washington. I am grateful, personally,
that we do not have to navigate those questions on a national stage. Paul’s
letter to the Corinthians, however, it not addressed to the politics of nations
but to the politics of our everyday human relationships:
·       Children
looking for leverage between parents
·       Co-workers
whose incompetence is hidden from or ignored by the boss
·       Friends
who get an invitation to the big party, and those who don’t
·       Colleagues
who conspire to pin guilt on you for something you did not do
·       And
even church people!
Membership
covenant: “Do you commit to the practice of reconciliation to guard the unity
of this congregation?” Why? Because we’re worse off than we think. We need
this!
So,
Paul writes to God’s people in Corinth, despite their strained relationship. He
is the founder of the church, but they do not respect his authority and
apostleship. He is the one who taught them the story of Jesus, but they prefer
other teachers and, perhaps, other stories. He is the one who modeled godly
living, but they have chosen to step out on their own path.
      Yes, Paul takes the time in the opening to
the letter to underline his authority: “called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus
by the will of God.”
      Yes, Paul takes the time to compliment
them and set up his argument. For example, they feel that they are more gifted
than each other and more gifted than Paul, so he compliments them: “you are not
lacking in any spiritual gift.”
      However, though Paul is beginning his
argument, he is beginning from a specific conviction that he underlines over
and over: Jesus at the center of everything, Jesus unites us, Jesus orders us,
Jesus calls us, Jesus graces us, Jesus makes us holy, Jesus sends us, Jesus
enriches us, Jesus strengthens us, Jesus fellowships with us.
There
are two specific phrases that I want to highlight for us, two phrases that, as
we live into them, we will find our relationships transformed, whether it is
the politics of family, workplace, school, or even church:
1
Corinthians 1:2
 our Lord Jesus Christ,
both their Lord and ours
      Lord = Master
      Shared Master, whether or not we recognize
it, basis of unity
      Trying to be the Master of one another
            “giving, faithful, and REAL”
Romans
14:4
 Who are you to pass
judgment on servants of another? It is before their own lord that they stand or
fall.
      Trying to be the “client” (patron-client
relationships)
1
Corinthians 1:8-9
 He will also
strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord
Jesus Christ.  9 God is faithful
      What matters is not Paul’s success in
reinstating his authority
      What matters is not Paul recognized for
his leadership
      What matters is what God is doing
            The credit is never ours
[song
lyrics]
His
was a life defined by grace
For a time and for a reason
And so we bow and give thanks to God
For the life of our brother

It’s just like God to make a hero from a sinner
It’s just like God to choose the loser, not the winner
It’s just like God to tell a story through the weak
To let the Gospel speak through the life of a man
Who’ll be the first to say

“Cheer up, Church
You’re worse off than you think
Cheer up, Church
You’re standing at the brink
Don’t despair
Do not fear
Grace is near”

Despite
the tension between Paul and the Corinthians, despite the tension between us
and those around us,
      Focus on what unites us, whether
recognized or not, in Jesus
      Focus on letting Jesus be YOUR Lord and
Master
      Focus on the work of God, independent and
sovereign
            And give thanks for that grace
Resources:
Gordon
D. Fee, The First Epistle to the
Corinthians,
1987, 1993, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

Charlie
Peacock, “Cheer Up Church” on Kingdom
Come