Sunday, June 22, 2014

On 6-29-14, 1 Corinthians 1:10-17 or 1 Corinthians 1:10-17; 3:4-9 will be our Adult Sunday School/Uniform Series/International Sunday School Lesson herein is my commentary. This lesson is known by some as A Call to Unity or Pursue Unity in Christ

A Call to Unity or Pursue Unity in Christ
 1 Corinthians 1:10-17 or 1 Corinthians 1:10-17; 3:4-9
International Sunday School Lesson
June 29, 2014

Jed Greenough

For me, and perhaps for you, this week may prove to be a frustrating lesson.  I don’t know about you but the frustration lies in the fact that what Paul was attempting to quash exploded into the church we have today.  Furthermore, in the end I do not think anyone is going to do anything significant to deal with the issue.
For me autonomy is a good thing.  I have neither job at stake nor any personal relationships; I just write this blog as a service so I can be blunt and say, “How we are any different than the Pharisees were in Jesus day?”  The Pharisees felt that their power and way of life were at risk and they put themselves ahead of their flock.
Today how would you like to be a pastor with kids to care for or how about a 55 year old one with a mortgage?  Job security, financial security and the cares of this world don’t just weigh heavily on you and me.
How about the preacher who is seeing benchmark numbers that are ever rising?  They are filling a niche with their plans from day care to senior care.  They are meeting the needs of all from divorce counseling to financial advisement and from exercise class to gardening instruction.  How could they leave now?  Can they see with the same eyes as they arrived with as to whether that is a church as Paul envisioned?
There are other issues if we can admit it.  There are some churches that are run like family businesses and I don’t just mean family in the traditional sense but also in the most negative.  If you aren’t related or a “made person” you will never be a true part.  Have an issue with how things are done or taught and you might just as well move along.
Other examples are like the political parts of our world today.  Let’s simplify it by saying you are either liberal or conservative therefore you are going to vote one way or another.  Likewise churches have created differences that we must align ourselves to dealing with issues such as communion, baptism, church position qualifications and sexual orientation.
All these things were what Paul was against.  Paul didn’t want anyone to think it was about him or anyone else but Christ.  He didn’t want the message to be watered down but I think he too eventually had to expand his message into other areas as he dealt with those who made up the ever growing church.
Do you think however that he ever stopped stressing the gospel message first?
Do you think he ever started giving in to adulation that was given him?
Do you think he ever loaded himself down with earthly treasures so that he had to consider them as he preached?
Do you think that the individual churches had to worry if Paul was putting himself ahead of God’s will?
There aren’t too many Pauls out there who will truly live a life devoted to Christ and the gospel message, who will leave all to follow Jesus.  Or who will limit themselves to a few years in a location so that those who naturally start to cling don’t.  Or that by overstaying those who naturally start to have more and more differences with them will have those differences hinder their worship.  There aren’t too many who can realize when they first arrived they could see things more clearly than they do now that everyone is comfortable.  There aren’t many who when success comes will give of their growing resources to start a new church instead of expand their own.  There aren’t many who when failures stack up will voluntarily let someone take their place who can succeed.
So if there aren’t too many Pauls left what do I Mr. Critic think should be done?  I think it’s on you!  After all there are a lot more of us than them.
You vote, serve on committees, teach, have a voice.  You have more power than you think as you debate matters you shouldn’t.  You inflate some egos and deflate others.  You know you do.  But what you must do is to get back again to what Paul emphasized.  He was a really smart man but I think that what he was smartest about was to realize that our wisdom isn’t so great and we need to remember that.
1 Corinthians 1:18-31

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.  For it is written:
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
    the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”
Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?  For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.  Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom,  but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,  but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.  For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.
Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.  But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.  God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are,  so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.  Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”

How many of us are wise enough or brave enough to return the church to what Paul wanted which was Churches which weren’t about individual personalities but about Christ and spreading the message of salvation, period?

For Discussion:
  1. Discuss the fear of rocking the boat.
  2. Discuss what God might think about those who know things should change but don’t do anything to bring about that change.
  3. Discuss the fact that those who lead have forceful personalities.
  4. Discuss that the things that I bring up are why so many leave the church.
  5. Discuss how many who leave a church and start one end up with similar or other issues.
  6. Discuss what those who are not Christians think of how we get along.

Upcoming Lessons
July 6     Glorify God with Your Body, 1 Corinthians 6:12-20
July 13    Love Builds Up or Exercise Freedom with Caution, 1 Corinthians 8
July 20    Overcoming Temptation, 1 Corinthians 10:12-22 or 1 Corinthians 10:6-22
July 27    Seek the Good of Others, 1 Corinthians 14:13-26

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved

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