Summary: The church that God desires us to be is full of involved people whom He has arranged! God can raise a church from the dead if people are willing to work!
If you want to have the kind of a church Like the kind of a church you like,
You needn’t slip your clothes in a grip, And start on a long, long hike.
You’ll only find what you left behind, For there’s nothing that’s really new.
It’s a knock at yourself when you knock your church. For it isn’t your church–it’s you!
Real churches are made, not by people afraid Lest someone else gets ahead.
When everyone works and nobody shirks, You can raise a church from the dead!
And if when you make your personal stake, Your neighbor can make one too.
Your church will be what you want it to be, For it isn’t your church – it’s you!
I wonder – are we asking the right question? Is the question: What does the church I’ve always longed for look like? Or should the question be: What does the church God always intended look like? The emphasis is on Who should be pleased by the church! I will say, that I think if we will allow the Lord to remake and re-mold our church into what He wants it to be, we will also be quite well pleased, as well! But if we simply endeavor to make it pleasing to us – nobody – not God, and not us – are going to be very happy about it!
I think we are on the right track when we look at the church in the book of Acts and try to determine what the church was like. We’ve talked about the church being a caring bunch of people, capturing the heart of our community by compassion and love, welcoming all people without regard to their race or ethnic background.
Today, I want to re-emphasize the fact that this business of building the church is God’s business, not yours or mine. You might say it is “tainted” – “taint your business, and it taint my business – it’s God’s business! Jesus had a conversation with Peter, and asked Peter who he says Jesus is. Peter wisely responded: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus said, “On this rock of confession I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” (Matt 16:15-18). It should not surprise us, then, that God would establish his church in one of the places that was notorious for its sin and wickedness – Corinth! Let me tell you a little about this place that would become a central player in the new church.
According to one of my professors, Dr. Charles Carter, in his book The Acts of the Apostles, “Corinth was in Paul’s day both the political and commercial metropolis of Greece and was the residence of the Roman Proconsul. The wickedness of Corinth made it a byword for corruption and licentiousness throughout the Roman world (266).
The Beacon Bible Commentary says “Corinth was the meetingplace of many cultures and languages. It had a considerable Jewish community. It was the capital of Achaia. It was the home of the famous Isthmian games. But its chief notoriety in Paul’s day seems to have been its reputation throughout the world as a center of licentious immorality. All kinds of vice flourished, much of it allied with religion. Acrocorinth, the fortress hill which dominated the city, had a temple to Aphrodite and 1000 priestesses dedicated to prostitution. Corinth was identified with sexual vice to the degree that its name had passed into the language: “to Corinthianize” meant to corrupt morally; to “act the Corinthian” meant to practice fornication. It was in this city of Roman officialdom, Greek commerce, pagan religions, wealth, poverty, slavery, and moral pollution, that Paul planted a thriving Christian church.(Acts. 207)”
Does that surprise us? Isn’t that the story of every place that has experienced a move of God? God doesn’t necessarily move upon the “cleaned up” place, the nice place. If you read back in Acts 17, you discover that Paul has just come from Athens, the “nice” place. It would have appeared to be a place more open to the gospel – there was the monument to the Unknown God that Paul used to illustrate a wonderful oratory to the learned men meeting at the Aereopagus. But the people who responded there was minimal. The Interpreter’s Bible Commentary says, “Athens had both the pride and the glory that were rapidly fading, so Paul moved from a city renowned for its learning to one notorious for its vice” (Acts. 239).
I’m interested in knowing how the Lord working in Corinth applies to what the Lord can do here in West Chester – how about you? I think if we were going to draw comparisons, we would probably say that this community might be more like Athens than Corinth. We are the nice place, the healthy living in the Burbs place. Don’t you think? But you know what? After 2,000 years, God is still doing what He has always been doing – establishing His church among people who are open and receptive to Him! The moral climate doesn’t hinder or help the church of God – it’s just the place where people live and move and respond to the Gospel. God can “raise a church from the dead” if people are willing to allow Him to work. AMEN?