Thursday, January 30, 2014

Touching Base, Part 228

TB 228
The Body – PART 1:
Be Here, See Here!
2 Feb 14

(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.

Be Here, See Here! Ever noticed that presence does not guarantee someone actually being present? Yes, physically they are in the room but they are anything but engaged. If you are discussing this in your small group talk about times in the day or week where you find it hard to be both physically present and attentive to what is actually unfolding in front of you. Ever been guilty of faking it? I would not recommend confessing this right now if your spouse is sitting next to you.

This past Sunday we started a series entitled The Body. We are going to be looking at a number of dynamics that relate to Body life. Be Here, See Here is the first dynamic that we are going to unpack.

Text: 1 Corinthians 8

Verse 1a tells us what the background issue was - idolatry was rampant in Corinth. The landscape was dotted with temples. Many who had come to faith in Christ had come out of deep-seated idolatry. Meat was offered to idols before being served in temples’ dining halls (often as part of worship) or being used for communal meals. Some new Christians struggled with whether or not it was okay to eat meat that had been offered to their former gods.

Note what is happening - there are some issues we wrestle with, and are more sensitive to, because of our past. Our current challenges and questions might have a historical root. What happens if I come along being insensitive to the issues you may wrestle with because of your past? I might be to you what a bull is to a china shop.

Check out how this unfolds in our text.

How do knowledge and love contrast each other?
Which one is self-focused?
Which one is other-focused?

According to Paul’s description, if you were in a room with Mr. Knowledge and Mr. Love, who would be probably asking the questions? Who might be pursuing you? Who might be attentive to other people in the room, other than themselves? Why?
How do verses 2 and 3 demonstrate the superiority of love?
Paul knows that they all possess knowledge but the problem is that they don’t all possess love, thus their challenge is to Be Here, See Here! They need to see who else is in the Body and understand where they are coming from on this issue of meat being sacrificed to idols.

This discussion is primarily about interpersonal behavior in certain contexts, not about cuisine. Paul is trying to wake them up to the fact that some in the Body are getting really beat up because of a lack of sensitivity.

The Two Groups

• V4-6 Puffed Up Grown-Ups!

What does this group know? Go through the verses and identify what they (we) know.
Notice that in v.4 Paul is drawing on his knowledge of the Old Testament (Psalm 115:4-8).
Notice in v.6 that Paul is essentially quoting the Shema: “Listen, Israel … the LORD is One” (Dt 6:4–6).
What does Paul say about Jesus that demonstrates His deity and equality with the Father?

Being part of the Body means understanding that there are people in the Body who are very different than us. Not everyone is at the same stage of growth. This is why we need to Be Here, See Here! Now check out the next group.

• V7,8 Messed Up Grown-Ups!

Notice how Paul describes these folks in v.7. “Weak” meaning that they do not possess the knowledge of v.4-6 and also of what Paul says in v.8. They get messed up because puffed up grown-ups are not being careful and acting in ways that are sensitive to the weaker brother. The stronger brothers were failing to really see their brothers in Christ, understand where they were at and thus act in accordance. They were present but not attentive, in the same room but not engaged.

What Paul says next (one Greek word, two English words) gets at the idea of Be Here, See Here!

V9 BE CAREFUL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Be Here, See Here!
Note the meaning of this word in the Greek. I include this just so that you get the sense of what Paul is getting at:

991 βλέπω [blepo /blep•o/] translates as “see” 90 times, “take heed” 12 times, “behold” 10 times, “beware” four times, “look on” four times, “look” three times, “beware of” three times, 1 to see, discern, of the bodily eye. 1A with the bodily eye: to be possessed of sight, have the power of seeing. 1B perceive by the use of the eyes: to see.. 1C to turn the eyes to anything: to look at, look upon, gaze at. 1D to perceive by the senses, to feel. 1E to discover by use, to know by experience. 2 metaph. to see with the mind’s eye. 2A to have (the power of) understanding. 2B to discern mentally, observe, perceive, discover, understand. 2C to turn the thoughts or direct the mind to a thing, to consider, contemplate, to look at, to weigh carefully, examine.”

Let me close by answering the question, “What does this look like?”

1. Make sure your knowledge is couched in (and coached by) love (v.9- Remember v.1)
We all possess knowledge but we don’t all possess love. Knowledge without love is like authority without integrity - ouch! Make sure that your knowledge is guided by this love ethic that Paul identifies in v.1 - love builds up, repairs, restores. Knowledge may say you can do it, but love will tune you into others and whether or not you should do it.

2. Understand the power of actions (v.10) (Dining rooms were often attached to temples.)
There is great power in what we say; however there is perhaps more power in what we do. Being careful means watching what we say and what we do. Your son, daughter, friend, team is watching. What kind of sermon are you preaching by what you are doing? Is it helping or hindering?

3. Realize who is watching you is of great value (v.11)
Who died for this brother?
If Christ loved this brother so much that He was willing to give up His exalted rights and even His life (Phil. 2:6, 8), surely the strong could give up his right to eat such meat.

In what way might the Holy Spirit be prompting you to act around your brother or sister that would be sensitive, encouraging and affirming?

4. Realize that you are sinning against Christ when you don’t “see” your brother (v.12)
If someone hurts your child, do you feel violated, enraged? Of course you do… they’re your kids! The act against your kid is an act against you. Likewise, sinning against a brother/sister, Paul says, is sinning against Christ their Savior.

V.13 Note the final verse in this section. Note the pronoun change - “I” - Paul is not asking them to do anything that he is not willing to do and is already doing.

How is your group at “seeing” each other? Is your group good at taking time to “see” each other or is your group too tied to the “agenda” too much? What does your group do to help each other understand where the other one is coming from?
Be Here, See Here!

Mark Kotchapaw
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