Summary: The patient's healing and continued health will depend on the willingness and determination of the patient to fully accept and unfailingly apply the Great Physician's prescriptions for cure and continuing care.
SERIES: PRESCRIPTIONS FOR A HEALTHY & HOLY CHURCH:
A Study in 1 Corinthians Applied To The Church Today
IV. DISCHARGE INSTRUCTIONS
(1 Cor. 16:1-24)
Rev. Todd G. Leupold, Perth Bible Church, August 30, 2009 AM
Together, we have spent most of the past eight months examining biblical Prescriptions For A Healthy & Holy Church, as seen through the example of Paul's ministrations to the first century Corinthian Church. Extending on Paul's analogy of the Church as the Body of Christ, we have framed this study through the lens of The Great Physician giving the Body (Church) a thorough examination, identifying and prescribing medicine for all of it's ills. From here on out, then, the patient's healing and continued health will depend on the willingness and determination of the patient to fully accept and unfailingly apply the Great Physician's prescriptions for cure and continuing care.
In such fashion Paul, as authorized and inspired by the Holy Spirit, concludes this prescription for spiritual health with a series of very practical final instructions. For me, these are much like the discharge instructions one receives when being released from the hospital after the initial, primary care (perhaps including surgery) has been administered.
Of course, health care being what it is, any discussion or discharge must begin with a reminder of the patient's responsibilities to pay for their care and/or that of their dependents.
A.) CO-OP INSURANCE (vv. 1-4)
The biblical expectation is that the Church of Christ will be taken care of through a co-op insurance group.
Many of us have probably heard this term thrown around a bit during the current health care debate in our country, but have not necessarily heard it defined or described.
Co-op is short for cooperative. A co-op group defers significantly from private insurance in that it is non-profit and provides few guarantees. An individual's special needs are provided for according to the sharing of fellow members of the co-operative group. It is dependent on it's members – not some corporate board or government agency – taking care of one another's needs.
This, according to Scripture, is how it is to be in Christ's Church. More specifically it means:
1.) ALL Are Expected To Participate To Benefit Others (v. 1)
All means all and that's all all means.
The goal and intent of each individual's participation is to be a blessing to others, and NOT to get a blessing or advantage for oneself.
2.) Contributions Are To Be Weekly & Self-motivated (v. 2)
Though voluntary and individual, participation and membership in a co-operative group is a serious commitment to others.
Simply participating and giving according to when one feels like it, thinks about it, finds it convenient, when it will help ensure personal benefit or satisfaction, etc. is diametrical opposed to the purpose and spirit of a co-operative.
Rather, participation and giving needs to be a regular, weekly commitment without fail, excuse, or delay. Others are depending and counting on each one doing their part. If even one fails in this regard, the whole system and all who are in it are put in jeopardy!
Yet, this commitment is one to be made and honored through personal motivation and integrity. There should be no need for solicitation, reminding, use of gimmicks, begging, or enforcing of this from the group or it's administration. It should, rather, be automatic on the part of each member.
3.) Giving Is To Be Proportional (v. 2)
A participant's giving is similarly expected to be proportional to one's means and abilities.
This is in contrast to an equal fixed amount from each. This way, ALL – poor and rich – can afford to participate and remain confident that their needs will be provided for regardless of their own personal means.
The system is dependent on all giving generously according to their true means and abilities without regard for what others can or can't do.
4.) Giving Is To Be Received Responsibly (vv. 3-4)
Finally, the giving is to be received by co-op administration in a responsible, accountable manner as stewards of what exists for others to God's glory!
Folks, in relation to the church, we are to function physically and spiritually as such a co-operative! Our effectiveness and ability to minister to all depends on it: Love & Generosity!
- With the provisions taken care of, attention turns to . . .
B.) RULES FOR THE JOURNEY AHEAD (vv. 5-9)
1.) Set Achievable, Short-range Goals (v. 5)
Plan and initiate living out and making the most of the life and health given to you!
2.) Remain Flexible (v. 6, 7)
Plan carefully, but don't lose sight of the reality that not all will ever go just as planned.
We must always be equally prepared to adjust and change our plans and goals according to circumstances and the Lord's leading.