The Body – PART 9:
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…
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.
1. LIVE BY A NEW ORIENTATION (V.2,3)
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”:
(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
2. APPRECIATE DIVERSITY IN UNITY (V.4-6, V.7-10)
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!
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