On Easter, we celebrated the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Resurrection creates in us a New Song which moves us to sing and dance in a way that the world around us has never known but that creation has longed for since the fall of humanity. Any argument we can make for the resurrection is negated when it is not backed up by a resurrected life. Allow this focus of Easter to launch us into a deeper conversation of what the resurrected life looks like. This life is not focused on “being good” to then “go to heaven.” This life is about having already received the first-fruit of the resurrection through the Holy Spirit in baptism and living out the reality of one who has been redeemed. A Christian faith that is self-focused has missed the target of what the Christian faith is about.
Our focus this year has been on how we GROW together as a community with our passage focus being in Acts 2:42-47. The Apostles have seen the Risen Christ, he has given them the mission to go into all the world, and the Holy Spirit has descended on them. Peter addresses a crowd at Pentecost about who Jesus was and is. He proclaims that the Holy Spirit is to be poured out on all people! Through baptism, we are made clean through the sacrifice of Jesus and raised with him in his resurrection. Through baptism, we are moved from outsider to insider and we receive the Holy Spirit as a marker of this insider reality. In Acts 2:42-47, we see a glimpse of what a Spirit filled community of believers looks like. This passage is an answer to the question, “What does it look like for a community of believers to live out the reality of the resurrection?”
All you have to do is read the Acts for a few more paragraphs to see that this perfect community of believers does not remain the reality. When you have people together, you’re going to have divisions. The more diverse your community becomes, the more potential there is for divisions. To say this another way: the more diverse the community becomes, the greater the need to the love of Christ to bring people together. Christ showed us the ultimate sacrifice when he died. Who did he die for? Me. You. The Jews. Those who loved him. Those who hated him. Those who didn’t know him. Those who refuse to know him. Christ died for all people that they might find life. This kind of love is the love we’re called to have for others. So, how do we apply this love to conflicts in community?
We are starting a new series to explore this question. If you’re looking for an example of a Church in conflict, look no further than Corinth. In First Corinthians, we will see divisions based on preachers, a man sleeping with his step mom, temple prostitution, believers suing one another, disagreements over food, tongue speaking, what women should wear when they prophesy in church, getting drunk during communion, chaos during worship, and people denying the bodily resurrection. This church has just about everything except a good argument on what color the carpets should be!
Why should a church like Corinth bother with trying to fix these problems? Why is unity so important? What are the guiding principles for how to address these issues?
The church is supposed to be the presence of God in this world. We embody a glimpse of what the resurrection will look like. God did not just save us from our sins through Jesus but has inaugurated us to be a royal priesthood and a holy nation. Just as Adam was called to be co-ruler with God and handed a shovel in the Garden of Eden, the church picks up our metaphorical shovel to join God in the redemptive action of bringing reconciliation to a broken creation in need of resurrecting. When issues come up in the church, we look to the example we have in the love of Christ through his death and resurrection. How does this love shape how we address these issues? Not everything is black and white in life. We can’t always consult a rule book. So, how do we address problems we face?
Paul begins 1 Corinthians 15 with, “Let me remind you of the gospel…” This is the climax of his letter and he spends most of this section talking about the resurrection. We tend to spend more time talking about Jesus’ death. He then uses imagery through the resurrection that what is planted perishable will be raised imperishable. This imagery points to this – Whatever seeds we plant of reconciliation in this life will be harvested in the life to come. Our focus verse for this study through First Corinthians comes from 15:58.
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
We are not here to try and work out our own righteousness for our own personal reward. What we do in this life to bring about reconciliation to the people and the world around us will be the seeds of the New Creation to come. Isn’t it beautiful that God actually desires us to partner with him in bringing about his Kingdom? The New Creation, cultivated in the love of Christ, becomes our guiding principle for how we interact with the world and how we address issues in the church.
April 28 – 1 Corinthians 1-4 – Divisions in the Church
May 5 – 1 Corinthians 5-7 – What You do with Your Body Matters
May 12 – 1 Corinthians 8-10 – Food – How to Approach Disagreements
May 19 – 1 Corinthians 11-14 – Resurrected View of the Church – The Lord’s Supper Should Bring Unity
May 26 – 1 Corinthians 11-14 – Resurrected View of the Church – Who is the Focus of our worship?
June 2 – 1 Corinthians 15 – Resurrection – What is Bodily Resurrection?