Summary: The Corinthians had made the mistake of approaching worship like a smorgasbord. They were taking what they thought was the best and walking by what they really needed on their plates.
This is Church not Theatre
Today’s scripture passage is meant as a loving correction from a father to his children. St. Paul is writing to his spiritual children in Corinth a church that he planted and now he goes about watering it.
Just like the parable of (The Sower) that Jesus gave us in Matthew chapter thirteen and Mark chapter four. The seed of our faith springs up in us regardless of the where we live.
For the Corinthians they were living in a very cosmopolitan city with lots of temptations and many local experts who professed to know what real Christianity was and how it was to be practiced.
As a result the Corinthian church had Christians who were trying to grow along the path where the birds came and ate some of the seed, and others were trying to grow in rocky places and sprang up quickly but had shallow roots. Still others like the parable had been trying to grow among the thorns only to be choked out. Fortunately there were those who had been growing in the good soil.
Paul as their spiritual father wanted to rescue those who were not in the good soil. Paul wanted to lovingly correct the Christians who were in a bad environment and gently bring them back where they could all grow together.
The church in Corinth had become divided as these Christians went off each in their own direction and many of them were in peril because of it. Even though they were in trouble they thought they were safe because each splinter group thought they were the ones who were right.
Paul wrote them telling them that they should not choose their faith like the flavor of the day at some ice cream store. The people at this church were all picking their favorite Pastors and then their favorite teachings. This resulted in disunity and confusion and hard feelings among the leadership. It was like an episode of Canadian Idol for Pastors, just phone in your vote to see who stays this week and who gets kicked off.
The Greeks love the science of logic and reason in fact they claim to have given it to civilization. Just as they claim to have created civilization through democracy. It’s like in the movie A Big Fat Greek Wedding where the father constantly teaches his daughters non-Greek fiancé about the true Greek root of every English word. The Greeks have a tremendous pride when it comes to language and reason and logic. They see themselves as the author of all these things. But in fact they are the recipients having received these things from God but that is another story.
So it is no small wonder that when it comes to the preaching of the gospel that they also claim an original orthodoxy. For them the gospel should be preached according to a specific formula or manner. It is almost as if it was a recipe that required the proper amount of very carefully measured ingredients. Each ingredient had to be pure and perfect and added to the discourse at just the right time. Preachers in Corinth who strayed from this formula were not following by the rules as they saw them and so it created conflict.
Paul loved them as only a father could and so he penned this letter to them in an effort to bring peace back into the body of the church and conformity to their understanding of the gospel.
Paul opens by talking about servitude. He uses a Greek word that refers to the kind of servants who serve on a Greek Galley (ship). The word he used for servant is the same one that referred to a rower. The ship had three levels of rowers and the ones Paul is talking about were in the bottom level of the Trireme. That is the kind of servitude that Paul wanted to bring them back to.
I know that I like to use music and props when I sing for you and sometimes it may look like I’m making a theatrical production out of a musical presentation. It is not my intention to so distract you from the message in the music that you get caught up in the entertainment rather than the teaching. But some people could see it that way and some people may be offended while others might really enjoy it. But that is me, that is how I am led to communicate and my personality comes out.
It was this kind of thing that was happening in Corinth. Some people in the church preferred one Pastor over another. Some people liked one Pastors teaching style and others disliked it and the division grew until the noise reached St. Paul’s ears.