Summary: What it means to be a church member - six part series
11We have spoken frankly to you Corinthians; our heart is wide open to you. 12There is no restriction in our affections, but only in yours. 13In return—I speak as to children—open wide your hearts also. 14Do not be mismatched with unbelievers. For what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness? Or what fellowship is there between light and darkness? 15What agreement does Christ have with Beliar? Or what does a believer share with an unbeliever? 16What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will live in them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17Therefore come out from them, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch nothing unclean; then I will welcome you, 18and I will be your father, and you shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” 2 Corinthians 6:11 - 18 (NRSV)
Our investigation of the Baptismal Covenant we started last week has introduced us to the question: What does it mean to be a church member? The answer, at least the beginning of the answer is – It means we REJECT SIN and RECEIVE CHRIST and His power and freedom to live.
This morning we continue with the next question, “Do you…promise to serve him as your Lord…?”  Last week it was “choosing sides” – this week it’s “choosing faithfulness.”
The Corinthian Syncretism Experience
Paul had taught the Corinthian believers about Jesus and helped them form into a church. However, after he left, their worship and daily life slipped into something less than desirable. In Corinth instead of worshipping God in spirit and truth, Christ was “syncretized” or mixed-in along with all the other religious and social opportunities of their culture.
We have that in our day as well. There are endless examples of people INCLUDING Christ in their world, instead of bowing to Christ as Lord of life; they mix a little Jesus with all their other interests.
This is the second letter Paul wrote to the Corinthians, and it’s somewhat harsh and a warning about what their lifestyle was doing to their relationship to Jesus. Our question – What was so bad about the way they lived? How about a list?
Idolatry – they slipped back into what the culture around them practiced…the more gods, the merrier. Whatever god seemed to be the “lucky charm of the week” was the one they carried around in their pockets.
Materialism – Corinth was huge, much bigger than Athens, and due to international trade it was a center of affluence. Money flowed like our Government prints it, and like Wall Street dreams about it.
Sexual sins including at one point incest (1Cor 5.1)
Misuse and perversion of spiritual gifts (1 Cor 14).
…the list goes on!
Paul’s relationship to this church was like a roller coaster ride; he founded the church, yet here we find that they rejected his (spiritual) fatherhood (v.11-14). So Paul then lovingly corrected her, like a spiritual father. He wasn’t about to give up on them.
What we have in our text is an impassioned plea to Paul’s spiritual children. He said that his heart was open to them. This “open heart” gives a picture of blood flowing, a metaphor of Paul’s unconditional, passionate love for these people; nothing was held back. Paul said his heart was open, but their hearts were restricted towards him. It’s a picture of being squeezed out of someone’s heart…the door being closed. Paul was desperately attempting to love them for their benefit, and they were rejecting his advice, pleas and even his rebuke.
Paul pleads, open your hearts to me; listen to what I have to say from my heart to yours…hey, I love you. And that’s the way it should be in the family of God. Paul may have sounded harsh with his warning, but when you’ve got loved ones who are in danger, you don’t leave them sitting on the railroad tracks!
Friends, if there’s someone in this fellowship who is “on the tracks” – what are you waiting for? Go! You be a brother or sister to that person!
So, what is it that was Paul pleading about? What was he suggesting they do to change things? In a word he told them – “separate” – separate yourself from that which is separating you from Christ! In so many words Paul asked them to answer the obvious question on the order of, can UP be DOWN? He asked:
When are righteousness and lawlessness partners?
When did sunlight and midnight become buddies?
Is Christ hanging out with Lucifer these days?
And since when does church include prostitutes?
The word “separate” is a military term, and it means to “stay in ranks”. My son Jason just graduated from an intensive 9 week school for Drill Sergeants (we Brownworths never seem to finish going to school!). He will now be responsible for training as many as 240 “raw” recruits in each cycle what it means to form and stay in ranks. More importantly he will help them know that in battle keeping in ranks may just save lives. Rank and file is not just about marching in parades on holidays – order, discipline and tactical symmetry are the strength of ranks; it is how battles are won or lost.