Friday, September 27, 2013

Touching Base, Part 217

TB 217
Lost in the City 2013 – PART 2
What Grocery Bag Are You Eating Out Of?
29 Sept 13

(You can find a recording of this sermon here.)

This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.

Can you relate to any of the following statements If so, why and when?

“ I am overly consumed with…..”
“I can’t get my mind off…..”
“I feel all knotted up inside.”
“I can’t focus because…..”
“This is killing me.”

We all know what it is like to have something eating us up inside. In fact, I am sure we would get 100% agreement on the statement “what is in you might be destroying you.” This is our big idea from today’s text, 1 Corinthians 5:6-8.

This week in our series, Lost in the City, we are looking at a section of Paul’s letter that is addressing this very issue - what is in you might be destroying you. But the additional complicating factors are,
a. They are boasting about what is destructive. In other words they don’t understand the damage being done to them, both as a church and individually
b. The issue at the core is sin, downright, outright sin. Something Paul says they need to get rid of.

Note: Sometimes what is eating us up inside is not a sin issue but part of the brokenness that we accumulate in our lives as a result of living in a broken world.

So let’s look at this issue as we answer the question, “how can what is in you destroy you?“

1. What is in you, can permeate you (v.6)

Note the phrase “works through the whole batch”- like the smell of a skunk, it knows no boundaries. Have you ever noticed how all-consuming internal issues can be? They seem to seep into every blood vessel, every organ of our body. They seem to have enough energy to bother us 24/7… unless, that is, you are a Corinthian and you are so ignorant of the damage being done that, in fact, you are boasting!

Notice the analogy Paul uses to help the Jewish and predominantly Gentile audience understand the power of what can be in us.

It was customary in both Gentile and Jewish homes to keep back some of the dough of last week’s dough, allowing it to ferment, then adding it to this week’s dough. Note how much dough Paul refers to. This tells you something of the power of what we are talking about. If you were a Jew, you would think of the Feast of Unleavened Bread/Passover and the command to Jews in the Old Testament to cleanse their house of any leaven once a year. It was potentially toxic. In the New Testament, leaven became a symbol of the process by which an evil spreads insidiously throughout a community until the whole batch is infected.

Do you think they get the point Paul is making? He wants them, not to boast, but to be broken and get rid of this stuff! The phrase “get rid of” can mean to cleanse, “to pierce” with a lance or sword, and thus “to kill”.
Read in v.1-5 in context and we know Paul is not talking about using swords literally and killing.

Read through the following texts and discuss the power of leaven:
- Regarding attitudes - Hebrews 12:15 (defile means to stain, taint, pollute)
- Regarding teaching - Luke 12:1. Think of this issue of teaching in the context of the many students who attend Bethel:
“From the moment Christian students first arrive on campus, their faith is assaulted on all sides by fellow students and teachers alike. According to a ground-breaking 2006 study by professors from Harvard and George Mason universities, the percentage of agnostics and atheists teaching at American colleges is three times greater than in the general population. More than 50 percent of college professors believe the Bible is ‘an ancient book of fables, legends, history and moral precepts.’ Students are routinely taught that Darwinian evolution is the substitute creator, the Bible is unreliable, that Jesus was like any other religious figure, and that any Christian who thinks differently is at best old-fashioned and at worst intolerant, bigoted and hateful. These ideas are perpetuated in the classroom through reason, logic and evidence.” (Apologetics for a New Generation, p.19)
- Regarding character- 1 Corinthians 15:33
- Regarding someone else’s weakness – Galatians 6:1

2. What is in you, can rob you (thief) (v.7,8)

Note the last four words of v.7 “as you really are.” What is Paul saying? Christ can save us, set us apart, make us His sons and daughters but leaven can rob us (not of our salvation, that is not Paul’s point), but of our spiritual health, wholeness and well-being.

This is why Christianity says “be egalitarian (equal) regarding persons, be elitist regarding ideas.” Not every statement, position, worldview, attitude, or behavior is equal. Some beliefs are downright destructive.

If you are reading this in a group take some time to talk about healthy choices and truths to live by, in contrast with what bad choices and “truths” look like.

The result for a believer making the leaven a staple of our diet is that we are not as we really are, instead we become the accumulation of our bad choices. That was Corinth: living way below who God had made them to be.

Discuss the following:

Why does God insist that we worship Him? For the same reason that parents tell their young children to stay away from fire, or speeding cars. God doesn't want humans to detach themselves from ultimate reality, which only ends up hurting us. (Is God A Moral Monster? Paul Copan, p.30)

Look at the price we are paying for making leaven part of our diet as a society.
“Prominent secular psychologists Edmund Bourne and Lorna Garano note that moral relativism (relativism was defined by Nietzsche as “ You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.”) has come to dominate modern life. …. They add that this is a major cause of anxiety among Americans.” (Apologetics For A New Generation, p.43)
This is one of the reasons why the Gospel means “good news” - Jesus invites us to build our lives on truth that is good (though not always easy and sacrifice-free) for us.

Note in the remaining section, what Paul says about the gospel v.7b,8.

As the Passover Lamb, what has Jesus done for us? Remember what John said? John 1:29

Remember that at the Passover, unleavened bread was used.

Three quick things as we wrap.

• How do we get rid of this leaven? Verses 7 and 8 show us: Jesus our Passover Lamb that takes away leaven is the key. We need to repent of leaven to Jesus. Secondly, note that getting rid of these kinds of issues, at times, takes community. The pronoun “you” in our text is plural. Paul is addressing a community of believers that need to deal with leaven. Sometimes, we need key people in the community to help us with our leaven.

• Note that this leaven is not in the world but in the church. Our greatest battles and temptations can come from other believers.

• Note that the gospel is liberating news. Some people say Christianity is restrictive and oppressive. I think Paul might beg to differ.

Don’t get lost in the leaven but walk in the wholeness of God’s truth.

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