Summary: Being God's church...means relying on and sharing God's grace. We explore what it means to be a church community relying on and sharing God's grace.
Three couples were having a coffee together after church.
They were frustrated.
Things weren’t going well at church.
The pastor wasn’t doing what they wanted.
There were some people in the congregation who were obviously sinners and trouble makers.
There were people who wouldn’t speak to each other.
Apparently there were money issues.
Then a fourth couple joined them, a couple who had recently joined the congregation,
There opening words were “You must be proud and thankful to be part of this church.”
It is great how people help each other out
The teaching is helpful and understandable
And it is great to have a number of options to worship God and learn from His word.
They changed the whole tone of the conversation.
So how do you view our church?
When you have conversations with others do you focus on the negatives and the problems…..
How God is at work through our congregation?
In our reading today from 1 Corinthians,
Paul is writing to a church he planted, but he didn’t see it as his church…He saw it as God’s church.
This is a very important point….
often we talk about this congregation being our congregation…which it is…we are part of it…
but it is not just our congregation
It is first God’s congregation
and it is better to talk that way for one very good reason….
it reminds us that what happens in our community should be what God wants to happen.
Unfortunately though this was not the case with this church in Corinth.
The Christianity community in Corinth
was a trading area….today it is only a small village…
However at the time this letter was written Corinth was a thriving trading port.
it had a very diverse community….
Making money was a very high priority for most people.
And there were two other major influences in the community.
Most of the Corinthians regularly visited 2 temples….
Aphrodite’s temple….to worship the goddess who was about intellect and better education
Athena’s temple….to worship the goddess who was about beauty and fulfilling sexual desires.
Striving for money, striving for knowledge and striving for beauty and sex were major focuses for most Corinthians…
The rest of the region saw the Corinthians as selfish, irresponsible and drunkards, and anyone acting this was called a Corinthian
These influences were having an effect on the church in Corinth.
There was much fighting.
People weren’t respecting leaders.
People were more interested in the church doing what they wanted, rather than what God wanted.
People were focussed on money.
Some in the church were openly sinning.
Others were happy to condone sinful lifestyles so as not to offend others or cause any more dramas in the congregation.
The church from many people’s perspective was not in a good healthy state.
1 Corinthians is Paul’s response to this situation.
Now later in 1 Corinthians Paul has some very stern things to say about those who are defying God and His approach to life…
However that is not how he begins the letter….
In verse 1 he says….
Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes.
Here he is reminding people, what he is about to say is not his opinion but God’s opinion.
Paul is highlighting that he is speaking with God’s authority.
Now as a congregation this is important for us as a church.
As we read and hear the bible, we don’t just see it as another person’s opinion, but God’s opinion….
As we undertake bible studies and hear sermons, we don’t just hear them as someone’s opinion but God’s opinion and God’s opinion being proclaimed.
For instance over the last few years our congregation has been focussed on following the peacemaker approach to dealing with disagreements and problems.
A major aspect of this approach is that should we have an issue about something we don’t first bring it up at a meeting, but we take the time to meet with the person and discuss the issue.
Now this approach comes directly from God’s word in Matthew 18 verses 15 to 17, therefore it is not just someone’s opinion….but God’s opinion in dealing with problems.
and therefore it is important that as God’s church when problems arise we use this process to work through our issues.
Paul then goes on to say in verse 2
To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—their Lord and ours:
One of the very significant things here for what it means to be church is that
we are called to be holy….
Me and you and everyone else here is called to be holy