Summary: Unity, The Church, Selfishness, Communion
AN “I” EXAM: Restoring Our Vision for Christ’s Mission – The “I” Exam
1 Corinthians 11:17-30 (p. 799) April 24, 2016
It’s something I wasn’t aware of...and man! There are a lot of things I’m not aware of, but when I got back from Florida, after being out in the sun my scars were a lot more visible...evidently they don’t tan like the rest of my skin...so they were more and more visible because of what the sun had done to the rest of my face.
And I shared some of this at communion on that day, but it seemed a perfect fit for this study.
Spiritually speaking it’s even more true when it comes to my scars. The more time I spend in the sun (SON) the more clearly I can see my scars. The more time I spend in the presence of Jesus...the more time I spend in His Word the more clearly I can see my sin...my selfishness...my pride.
With the Son of God’s holiness as the radiant backdrop...my unholiness is clearly visible.
Have you ever had a white T shirt you thought was clean? Maybe you have 7 or 8 that you’ve had for a while...you wash them, fold them...keep them in the same drawer...and then for your birthday Aunt Patsy gives you a brand new 3 pack of undershirts...you pull them out...put them in the same drawer...and man!!! The old ones don’t look white...they don’t look new...they look old, grey and stained...compared to the new.
God’s Word says something humbling about every single one of us...It doesn’t matter who we are: men, women, Jew, Gentile, rich, poor, old, young...it says “All of us are old, grey and stained T shirts or at least that’s my translation of Romans 3.
“There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless. There is no one who does good, not even one.” (Romans 3:10-12)
No matter how clean and good we think we are...this truth from Isaiah remains “All our righteous acts are like filthy rags.” (Is. 64:6)
You see all “the good things” we do look like those old T shirts when held up next to Jesus...who is the only one who is really “good.”
It’s that “I” exam that God and His Word perform in believers lives...In this world we like to compare the “cleanliness” of our lives with others...usually finding someone with a lot more stains...so we can say “I” am good...but that’s not a comparison that helps us...in fact it hurts us...giving us a false impression our T shirt of righteousness is “pure.”
To refocus our vision so that we can restore the mission of the church...a mission of making disciples and teaching believers to obey Jesus’ commands...
I. WE MUST STOP CREATING US VERSUS THEM SITUATIONS
In the church at Corinth there was clearly a problem with this issue...Right after the Apostle Paul says in his opening of the letter: “God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with His Son Jesus Christ our Lord.” He says this:
1 CORINTHIANS 1:10-13 (p. 792)
These early believers began to compare themselves to each other in regards to who was worth more...They began to form groups that separated themselves from the whole...Each group bragged about how spiritual they were...how clean their T shirts were...I follow Paul...I follow Apollos...I follow Peter!” Us versus them...I bet when they met together they felt so “spiritual” maybe they even gave their groups special names like “Paul’s Peeps” and “Apollos’ Apostles” or “Peter’s Rock Group” but the fruit that comes from these groups caused division instead of unity...They emptied the cross of it’s power.”
So when it came time for worship and for the assembly to remember the Lord during communion...their meetings did more harm than good...the divide got wider...Listen:
1 CORINTHIANS 11:17-22 (p. 799)
Each group...each person had forgotten that it took the power of the cross to make them clean...the attitude that permeated the spirits of people meeting together “in Christ’s name” was “I’m here for me and my group...I’m worth more...my preferences are paramount...I want nothing to do with those who aren’t part of my “clique.”
They had the cup and bread there...they did religious things...under the false belief, that it was “church” but division and differences, selfishness and self focus made Paul say, “This isn’t the Lord’s supper you’re eating!!!”
Those who claimed to follow Paul were probably the old guard...the charter group, after all Paul planted Corinth, those who followed Apollos, who assisted the apostles in Acts 19 here were probably younger since Apollos was younger...and those who claimed to follow Peter, the most popular and influential of the original 12, probably thought that way....like people who pull for New England in football or the Yankees in baseball.