Thursday, April 24, 2014

Touching Base, Part 236

TB 236
The Body – PART 9:
Wonderfully-Wired Worshippers!
26 April 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.

Ignorant behaviour… ever seen such a thing in the Body? Ever been privy to bonehead behaviour, yahoo attitudes, foolish words that divided, hurt, wounded and enraged? The word “ignorant” means “to be uninformed, to not know, to not understand”. However we have all witnessed ignorant behaviour where the person was well-aware of what they were doing and saying. The hurt was intentional the insult was well-planned.

Text: 1 Corinthians 12:1-11
Read the text and note the context of their ignorance.

V1- Their ignorance is connected to spiritual gifts, endowments abilities, how each of them was wired. This was a bit of a slap in the face because some of the Corinthians thought they had this area all figured out, but they didn’t, and some were getting badly beaten up because of it. Their ignorance was in the fact that they isolated one or two gifts - tongues and prophecy - elevated them, favoured them, and then defined true spirituality as those who had them. The result was that other gifts were neglected, people were belittled and marginalized, while others were exalted. It all spelled…
i-g-n-o-r-a-n-t b-e-h-a-v-i-o-u-r!

So Paul is challenging them to Celebrate The Wonderfully-Wired Worshipper, not to act ignorantly.

Question: How can we drop the word ignorance from our relational vocabulary?
Let me give you two statements that Paul makes to counter the ignorant behaviour. You could probably take most of these points and apply them to any situation where there is ignorant behaviour.

V2- What do we learn about their former way of life?
“Influenced and led astray” is a phrase that meant “to be led off to trial for punishment and imprisonment.”
V3- Who now leads them? It is believed that the false teachers claimed that their visions, revelations, and messages (cf. 2 Cor. 12:1) were from God, but they apparently denied the humanity of Christ, as expressed by the words Jesus be cursed.
Now note the contrast, “Jesus is Lord!”Anyone can say these words. Paul is not talking about lip service but heart transformation, “by the Holy Spirit.” When the Spirit causes us to say Jesus is Lord - this is a radical departure from the way we use to live. New allegiance, new orientation, new framework. The use of “Lord” meant absolute radical allegiance to Jesus.

Just like the Corinthians we could also contrast our past with our present. There was a way we once lived but now because we say, “Jesus is Lord” we live differently. What are some of the differences Christ has made in you? Think of attitudes, values, priorities, career, stewardship.

The specific issue of needed change in our context was in how they treated others and their gifts. They were claiming a super level of spirituality because they had tongues and prophecy but people were getting terribly beaten up because of their ignorant behaviour. Because “Jesus is Lord”, because He is their example, Paul is saying, they need to clean up their relationships. The abuse needs to stop.

“The presence of the Spirit in power and gifts makes it easy for God’s people to think of the power and gifts as the real evidence of the Spirits’ presence. Not so for Paul. The ultimate criterion of the Spirit’s activity is the exaltation of Jesus as Lord. Whatever takes away from that, even if they be legitimate expressions of the Spirit, begins to move away from Christ to a more pagan fascination with spiritual activity as an end in itself.” (1 Corinthians, Gordon Fee, page 582)

A review of the last few chapters shows where the shift in relationships needed to occur to reflect “Jesus is Lord”:

Ignorant Redemptive
(old life) (new life)
Cheat others Walk of relational integrity
Ignore the weak Embrace the weak
All for my glory All for God’s glory
Seek only my good Seek the good of others
Me first Wait for others
My Rights Give up rights
Knowledge Knowledge shaped by love
Elitist Brothers and Sisters

Note how many times Paul uses the word different in v4-6. Also note all the different manifestations of the Spirit listed in v.7-10. Note that Paul does not define them or say that this is an exhaustive list. He is simply illustrating diversity.
Then note the unity and diversity in the Godhead. This is trinitarianism.
Note in v.4-6- Spirit, Lord and God
Spirit- a reference to the Holy Spirit already mentioned in v.3
Lord- a term Paul used to describe Jesus
God- Although God is not called Father here- Paul regularly does so- 8:6, 2 Cor. 13:13
(gifts, service and working- all are addressing the idea of manifestations of the Spirit)
There is unity within the Godhead yet visible diversity. Also note in v.4-10 the use of the adjective same in describing Spirit, Lord and God. Paul is driving at diversity and unity.

We are all so different but we are to be united. Discuss the following statement on diversity and spiritual growth.

Wise spiritual directors lean into this. To borrow an analogy from Marcus Buckingham, good spiritual directors play checkers; great spiritual directors play chess. In checkers, each piece moves exactly the same way. One checker is pretty much interchangeable with any other checker. But in chess, the possibilities vary according to the piece. Skill at helping people grow spiritually, like skill at playing chess, depends on understanding and valuing differences.

Not only are we different in our gift wiring but as the carrier of that gift there is so much about that person that may be very different than who I am, for example ethnicity, gender, generational, maturity, etc.

How do we move from ignorance to being informed?
How do you grow in understanding Christ followers that are very different than you?
What efforts do you make to listen, learn and understand?
What are road blocks and frustrations?

What was happening in our text was that they are not appreciating diversity regarding gifts but minimizing them and creating disunity and in the process people were being hurt.

At Bethel one of our values is solidarity. It is important that the Body celebrates the wonderfully-wired worshipper and seeks to understand, attempts to listen and expresses appreciation for that brother or sister that may be very different than me or you. That kind of attitude, that posture, is not ignorant but in fact a profound way of demonstrating to the world that Jesus is Lord!

If interested in joining or starting a small group contact

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Touching Base Part 235

TB 235
The Body – PART 8:
Pass the Baloney Sandwiches!
6 April 14

(This article can also be found on our website
at under the tab called "Blog")

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.

Imagine going to a church where class distinctions were highlighted, the “haves” and the “have nots” were definitely two distinct groups and the result was that one group felt shamed and, ultimately, the Church was despised. In our text today this is what was happening. One group was eating prime rib and the other was eating baloney sandwiches.

Before we jump into the text, does anyone in the group want to recall an experience where they were made to feel like a second class citizen? How often do people struggle with feeling like they don’t fit in, measure up or are not good enough?

Big Idea: Jesus Eats Baloney Sandwiches!
Text: 1 Corinthians 11:17-34

The Problem (v.17-22)
Read the text and list all the clues in these verses that illustrate that the Corinthian church had problems. You can be sure that this was a sick church in many ways.

Note that the divisions Paul is talking about here are different than the kinds of divisions he had referred to earlier. These divisions were around the rich and the poor. The prime rib eaters and the baloney sandwich consumers.

Paul is concerned with at least two social facets of the problem, namely, the disorderliness and the inequality of the proceedings. Neither of these characteristics was at all unusual at Greco-Roman banquets which were usually followed by drinking parties. The larger dining rooms in homes were equipped to hold only nine to twenty people, and there were certainly more Corinthian Christians than that. Regarding the triclinium/dining room - archaeology has shown this room would have held about 9-12 people. The majority would eat in the atrium which was like a courtyard holding 30-50 guests. It was the normal practice to rank one’s guests in terms of social status, with those of higher status eating with the host in the dining room and others eating elsewhere and getting poorer food - prime rib vs baloney.

Notice that the abuse was so bad that Paul says (v.20), “it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat…” The Lord’s Supper took place within the context of a meal and it was to remember Christ (see below). The abuse was so bad that even though they may have been going through the motions, their corruption of it had turned it into anything but the Lord’s Supper. They were adopting the social paradigm of the day and transferring it into the church. Meals were often occasions to show off social status. They were bringing the manners and practices of the culture into the church.

Where have you seen the social paradigm of the day transferring into the church and thus despising the church?

How would you describe Paul’s response towards them? What might be his dominant emotion?

What are modern-day examples of division within the Church?

Now, notice how Paul proceeds to tear down the walls of division

The Solution (v.23-34)
V23-26 - The original context was Jesus with his disciples eating the Passover meal, at which time he reinterpreted the bread and wine in terms of his body and blood, soon to be given over in death on the cross.

Note “remembrance” (v.24,25) - This word is stated twice. It is defined as the act of putting something in the mind for attention. They are forgetting what this meal is all about and thus you have this mess in Corinth. They need to remember.

Note “proclaim” (v.26) - Who?
They were not remembering or proclaiming Jesus.

Note “new covenant” - Covenant refers to a contractual arrangement between God and a person, or between human beings, which required binding action from one or both parties; one party often had higher status in the arrangement.
Who has higher status in our context? God. He is in the “dining room”, as it were, but what did he do? He crossed over into the atrium - breaking down the barriers.

The heart of the Gospel is the Greater One coming down to the lowly, the Greater One humbling Himself, making relationship possible. At Christmas we celebrate God becoming a man, and at Easter God (in Jesus) submits Himself to the humiliation of a cross and death. Stepping down.

This is the heart of the Gospel. But note that what was going on in Corinth at the Lord’s Supper… was exactly the opposite of the heart of the Gospel. What was the result?

When you don’t remember and you don’t proclaim the church can become something that is profane!

Now Paul gets really practical in how to tear down some walls.

V.27 - When we do not allow this Gospel to invade our horizontal relationships we sin against Jesus. How does one make sure they are not eating and drinking in an unworthy manner? See v.28.
V.28 - What am I looking for as I examine myself? See v.29.
V.29 - The body of the Lord is referring to the church, the very issue he raised in v.17-22. Note 10:17,12:12.

People could be eating and drinking and celebrating what Jesus has done, but be absolutely unwilling to do what Jesus did for them. Do you see how this not only humiliates people, but despises the church? V.27 says it even more clearly - “sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.”

They were supposedly vertically-transformed… but horizontally-challenged!

Note Paul’s final words on this topic (v.30-34). Note the anger of the Lord towards Corinth on this issue.

Some questions as we wrap up:
Who might be in your “atrium”? Who might you be unwilling to move toward?
A class distinction might cause you to not move toward someone.
Someone may have hurt you and so you have put them in the atrium.
Someone in the atrium might be someone you refuse to forgive.
Possibly a person in your atrium is someone who has made no attempt to move towards you. Thus you think they don’t deserve your kindness. You think “they deserve that baloney sandwich!”
Someone who is just weird perhaps is in your atrium. “Weird” builds walls and justifies my disengagement.

Let’s face it, we can so easily isolate people, build barriers and distance ourselves from others who we think are so undeserving. The heart of the Gospel, at times, can be the farthest thing from our hearts, even though we drink the cup and eat the bread.

Lord forgive us! Lord teach us to eat baloney sandwiches!

Join us today for Breathe- Worship, 4pm in the Upper Room.

Mark Kotchapaw
If interested in joining or starting a small group contact