Sunday, February 9, 2014

Touching Base, Part 229

TB 229
The Body – PART 2:
The Body Is A Window, Not A Wall!
9 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.

Ever heard the saying, “You make a better wall (yes I know it is door, but for our purposes just let it be a wall) than a window!” Perhaps that phrase has been said by you as you hold the remote control and someone is standing in your line of sight to the TV. Do you think this could ever be said about the church, the body?
How has the body been a wall, blocking people from seeing Jesus?
How has the body been a window, helping people see who Jesus is?

On Sunday we talked about The Body Is A Window Not A Wall! Let’s jump into the text and see how this idea develops in our text.

[Note: After challenging the Corinthians to be willing to give up their rights to eat meat for the sake of the weaker brother, Paul now digresses a little in his argument and draws out a personal application of how he has given up his own rights. Notice in 8:13 how he had referred to himself. Now in Chapter 9 he will identify what rights he has given up, for whom and how he has gone about doing this.]

V1-14- Read through this section and see if you can identify the illustrations he uses to drive home his point.
What is his point?
In light of his rights, note what he and some others have done (v.12b, 15,18).
What does verse 12b tell us about why Paul was willing to give up his rights?
“Hinder” - the word means a cutting made in a road to impede an enemy in pursuit. Paul wants to be a window, not a wall so that people far from God can see Jesus. Note that the audience he is talking about are people far from God. He will define these people later in v.19-23.

Question: In the giving up of his rights, what two things did Paul do to be a window?


Verse 12a identifies the obstacle he removed. Note how this had become an obstacle.
There were itinerant teachers throughout the Mediterranean region, some who accepted fees or patronage or (like the Cynics) begged for a living. Apparently Paul did not want to be identified with such people even in the least, especially where some might suspect that he was in the preaching business in order to bilk people. The Sophists were particularly noted for bilking patrons.

Note what his reward was in preaching the Gospel. (v.18, 23).
Note his passion for preaching (v.15-18).

I love what Paul models here - a deep commitment to be a window, not a wall. A resolution to help people see Jesus and not hinder the sightlines.

Think about your own life - what issues can represent walls in your life that hinder the sightlines from people seeing Jesus as a result of knowing you? I realize that some might say, “I don’t feel like I am a wall, perhaps more like a dirty window.”

To be a better window, we need to deal with the sin that distorts the sightlines. I am sure you can think of all kinds of sin issues that prevent people from seeing Jesus in you. However, note that what Paul is giving up (the right to be paid) is not necessarily wrong, but in that context it’s a real hindrance to helping people see Jesus. What have been some of your rights that you have given up so that people can see Jesus in you?
Here is one example - you might have the right to say something in a tense relational interaction but because of your heart to be a window not a wall , you back off – it’ss all about timing.
Got other examples?

Note that for other disciples it was okay to collect a wage. Paul mentions this in chapter 9. Even Jesus said it was the right of people who preach the Gospel to be paid. We really need discernment on this issue. There is no fixed answer that works in every situation. At times it might be right to exercise your right. At other times it might be wrong to exercise your right!


What do you note?
Slave (v.19) - this is a window word. He was willing to give himself for others’ needs - their need for the Gospel.
“I became like….” Note how many times you find this phrase or its close cousin in these verses.

He accommodates his style of living, not his theological or ethical principles, to whomever he is with so as better to win that person to Christ. He is, in short, flexible in his general lifestyle—food, clothing, and the like.
Jews - those under the law
Gentiles - those not having the law
Weak - in this verse refers to Jews and Gentiles together in a state of unbelief and so was intended to summarize Paul’s previously stated convictions (cf. Rom. 5:6 where “the weak” are also called “the ungodly”). Some also believe the weak could refer to those referred to in 1 Corinthians 8.

Who modeled this perfectly without compromise, and without sin? (Philippians 2)

Paul saw himself as a slave, called of God to serve people, helping them see and hear the Gospel.

The church has often been guilty of two extremes on this issue. On the one end the church is guilty of pulling away, being disconnected from society. On the other end, the church has been guilty of being so much like the world (a Corinthian problem) that there is no difference, and then, of course, scandals soon follow. Jesus was in the middle - in the world but uncompromised.

Talk about this tension, danger and balance.

Here are some further questions for you to ponder:
 Who is it that God is asking you to be a window for?
 What does it mean to become like them?
 How is this model different than what you might be used to? (For example, the Church used to be big on the “invite”. Instead, Paul is big on becoming like them, entering their space.)

As we wrap lets think about these three words:
Passion - Notice in v.16 Paul says he is “compelled” to preach. It is a word that refers to the state of being absolutely required- a force or a compulsion. How passionate are you when it comes to being a window for the Gospel? I sometimes struggle with this - my passion levels. Anyone else? Do you need to pray about it?
Slave - I don’t always see people around me as people who I have an opportunity to serve. If the Gospel is true, should we not be a church full of slaves? Should we not see the city as a place to come alongside people far from God and help them see Jesus in our actions and in our words?
Reward - Is my heart set on the right reward? (v.18,23; 10:33)

“You make a better wall (insert “door” here if it makes you feel good) than a window!” Might that not be said of us individually, or corporately.

Mark Kotchapaw
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