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1 Corinthians Chapters 3-5 — Apathy to Carnality vs. Indifference to Immorality

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Wow, so the question for today’s study is 1 Corinthians, chapters 3-5.  How similar those days were to modern day Kansas City.  Apathy to Carnality, and indifference to Immorality.

This has been a rather interesting couple of chapters for me, and I totally get how these two meet up.  Basically the church in Corinth went from Apathy to Carnality, and you really have to wonder if we are going from indifference to immorality.  With that said, following are some points I have come across and thought I would share.

  • Paul continues his thought on spirituality and he shows that they are not spiritual. One result of the divisions was carnality and stunted spiritual growth (3:1-2). (3:1) “Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ.” Ouch… we know that these people are part of the family of God since Paul calls them brethren…but that is part of the problem. Though they have the Holy Spirit (unlike the natural man of 1 Corinthians 2:14) they are not behaving like spiritual people, but like carnal – that is, fleshly-people, like immature Christians (babes in Christ).  They are, to some extent, are thinking and acting according to the flesh, not the Spirit.
  • Paul has spoken to us about three categories of men. There is the natural man (1 Corinthians 2:14), who is patterned after Adam and rejects the things of the Spirit. There is the spiritual man (1 Corinthians 2:15), who knows the things of God. And there is the carnal man who knows the things of God, yet in some significant ways is still characterized by the flesh. Which one are you? I worry that I am all too often the 3rd man – the carnal man.  Lessons like this help me correct that.
  • One of the main problems the Corinthians had was the fact that they were attraction to spiritual “junk food,” based on man’s wisdom and eloquence. They were so “filled” with this junk food that they were not able to receive the spiritual solid food Paul wanted to give them. Think about how real that is today…In fact, it really is a sobering thought that many, many people who believe they are serving God, are doing it in an unworthy manner or with unworthy “materials” and will come to find in eternity that they have, in reality, done nothing for the Lord.   Again, studies like this are so badly needed right now.  I don’t want to be surprised due to my earthly wisdom and pride!
  • Many people today evaluate a pastor or a minister on unbiblical standards. They judge him on the basis of his humor, or entertainment value, his appearance, or his skill at marketing and sales. But this is to think beyond what is written in the sense Paul means it here. I have seen this throughout my lifetime.  I have even been guilty of it.  I wish this church would do x, this minister do y.  If they did, it would satisfy z.  Am I expecting the church to fulfil my personal, worldly needs, or my spiritual needs?  I think there are times I settle for an entertaining sermon with a good band, than the alternative that feeds my soul.  I am not saying that the entertaining sermon cannot do that, we need to be careful.
  • I also think that the church needs to be careful. It might be worth adding that the church today is heavy with this same attitude of the Corinthian Christians. They were concerned about the image of worldly success and power, and many of them despised Paul and the other apostles because they did not display that image. Today, there is no shortage of ministers who want to display the image of worldly success and power, and no shortage of Christians who will value that in their minister.
  • Now think about the church and how we look at our ministers. Would we have hired Paul today?  After all, look at Paul’s resume: he bounced from church to church, he was run out of many towns, he was accused of starting riots, he was rarely supported by the ministry, he was arrested and imprisoned several times.  On the surface, it would be hard to imagine, but we need to look deeper – don’t we…Our problem is we often want a middle road; a little popularity, a little reputation, but still the anointing of God. We want the power without the cost. God help us to choose Paul’s way!
  • Now take it a step further. Paul told the Corinthian Christians to imitate him.  Can you imagine their response… our response?  He was regarded as a fool, as weak, as dishonored; he was hungry and thirsty and poorly clothed, he was homeless and beaten; he worked hard to support himself with manual labor – not merely through the salary he pulled from the church.
  • Paul is not only shocked by the immoral conduct of this individual member of the church, he is also appalled by the attitude of the church itself: “you are arrogant!” (verse 2) They were tolerating and basically condoning this immoral conduct and lifestyle. Instead of being arrogant, the church should have been that of grief!  “Should you not rather be grieved…?” the whole purpose of God was being ignored and even defied!   And note that his isn’t only on the leaders, but the church as a whole.  It is everyone’s responsibility to maintain the purity of Christ’s church.  How often do we turn to the church leaders and ask that they “take care” of a problem for us, and if they don’t we turn a blind eye to the problem saying “we tried” or “we told so and so”.
  • The offender was to be delivered to Satan. That is to say, the protective covering of God’s grace was removed from the man (this was done by removing his name from the covenant community of the church), allowing him to be exposed to the attacks of the devil in an unprotected state. Up to this point there has been no repentance in the man’s life, thus he is now being given over to the course of life he has adamantly chosen to pursue and is being allowed to face the consequences of his choice. The offender was being delivered unto Satan “for the destruction of his sinful nature:”
  • Remember that Corinth was a city notorious for sexual immorality, and the pagan religions did not value sexual purity. It wasn’t hard for a Corinthian to think you could be religious, yet still act any way you pleased when it came to sex. Greek culture could matter-of-factly say: “Mistresses we keep for the sake of pleasure, concubines for the daily care of the body, but wives to bear us legitimate children.” Look how close that mirrors today’s society.  People say they are religious, but they are just not sure they are “fully Christian.” They want to live their own way of life, and also say they believe that God created this world.  But, in the same breathe, they will also add that they feel that their good deeds will outweigh their bad ones in the end.  In other words – works are more important.
  • More than anything, the Corinthian Christians were probably allowing this in the name of “tolerance.” Oops… three is that word we hear a lot today… tolerance. They probably were saying to themselves, “Look how loving we are. We are accepting this brother just as he is. Look how open-minded we are!” We should never underestimate what people will allow in the name of “open-mindedness.”  In particular, and as an example, I see this with my daughter.  She will see something that she knows is wrong, but will say just this.  I love them no matter what.  But I try to say, if you know they are wrong, is it really love if you let them continue to do it?
  • The church is not a group of ‘religious policemen’ out to catch a criminal/sinner. Rather, we are a group of equally brokenhearted and sinning brothers and sisters seeking to restore and the stumbling member of the family. I cannot tell you the number of times God reminds me how imperfect I am.  It is in those moments I can have enough compassion to help another brother or sister through his/her storm.
  • Nearing the end of this chapter, Paul is reminding/warning the Corinth Christian that they cannot continue in Christian fellowship with a notorious sinner who calls himself a Christian. As noted above, it is part of our responsibility to help bring them back around, but we should stop seeking advice from them.  We should not ask for spiritual guidance from them.  Not until they repent.
  • And finally Paul is pointing out that we are too busy judging those outside of the church (which is God’s job only) and are neglecting purity within the church.

right wrongSo, do you see some similar statements between Paul and the Corinthian Christian to people of today?  do you see how indifference can lead to immorality just like apathy lead to Carnality?

Very interest study for me.

More to come!

Michael

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Bono and now a blogger small group

First off… I started this post to pass along this great read!

Check out this interesting read.  gotta love bono.

Second, who wants to join me with weekly small group discussion?

blogger small group

Also, coming up, my thoughts on 1 corinthians.  Alot has been popping up on that.  I was going one direction – thinking part of the issue was pride.  Now I am going another – that the church just didn’t get it on so many levels.  This all started with a pastor who said that Kansas City is alot like Corinth.  From there, I listened to his thoughts, and now I am knee deep in trying to understand his thoughts on the matter.  Even the following is not in final form, it is just a draft.  Ugh, I really do love dialog.

The sneak peak is as follows:

First his points:

CORINTH KANSAS CITY
pop. 500,000+ pop. 500,000+
Ten People Groups Ten People Groups
ISSUES: (1 COR) ISSUES:
Ch 1—Disunity Racial Strife
     2—Philosophy Education
    3-5—Apathy to Carnality Indifference to Immorality
    6—Lawsuits Litigation
    7—Managing Marriage Divorce and Remarriage
    8-10—Limiting Liberty Relinquishing Rights
    11—Obeying Authority Radical Feminism
   12-14—Supernatural Gifts Charismania
   15—Faith in Resurrection Unity School of Hinduism
    16—Offerings Financial Scandal

Ok, know that I will probably agree with some of what you have listed above, but also see that there are some challenges for me as well.  The exciting thing is this is a wonderful theological exercise that stretches me and forces me to look into the bible a little more indepth and an open heart and mind.  For me, this will take some time to review and research.  But, again what a wonderful exercise, and I will say that I can appreciate some of the similarity to Corinth and the new church in Corinth to Kansas City.

With that said, I will take this a chapter or so at a time.

CORINTH KANSAS CITY
pop. 500,000+ pop. 500,000+
Ten People Groups Ten People Groups

First thought, I really don’t know how big Corinth was.  I do know that is was one of the largest cities in Greece and the Romans made it the capital around 50 years before Christ was born.  From there it grew significantly.  How many?  I have read anywhere from 250k-700k.  Also the population included a mixture of Romans, Greeks and Jews – None of which were overly excited about Christianity.

The Kansas City Metro area, on the other hand, has a population of 2.3 million, with a mix of White, Black or African American, American Indian and Alaska Native, Asian, Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, Hispanic or Latino.  KC proper is about 450-500k.  And around half say they are Christian. (http://www.thearda.com/rcms2010/r/m/28140/rcms2010_28140_metro_name_2010.asp)

Ch 1—Disunity Racial Strife

Comments:

  • Chapter 1 — Disunity vs. Racial Strife
  • Basically as I understand it, Paul’s main goal was that the Corinthian church would be united in Christian love. As you noted above – disunity was a huge problem.  This was his primary goal.  But in saying that we also have to acknowledge that there were all sorts of controversies and divisions among them – thus the disunity. All of this was reported back to Paul.  His response was to write and address all of those issues.
  • With that said, and in regards to Ch1 – are you saying disunity is similar to the racial strife we see in KC? Weren’t the Corinthian believers divided into groups and holding up various leaders (Paul, Apollos, Cephas (aka Peter), and yes even Christ) as being superior to one another?  Basically wasn’t he trying to unit the church, not the city?  I get the loose connection of comparing one religious leader superior to another to Racial Strife, but the disunity was amongst the church.
  • As I understand it, Paul’s argument, at least in Chapter 1 and early chapter 2, is that they have misunderstood the very nature of the gospel. In the next three paragraphs he shows them
    • first, that the very idea of a crucified Messiah is foolish to those who do not believe (1:18-25), and to those who are using their earthly wisdom
    • second, that God chose them though they did not deserve it (1:26-31) – especially if a person based their importance on earthly things like human wisdom, influence, noble birth, etc. He did that so that no one can boast and say they did it on their own, rather it was because of Christ that we are now righteous, holy and redeemed.  and finally,
    • third, look how God used him, Paul, in his weakness (2:1-5). He wanted the Spirit’s power to be demonstrated, not Paul’s human words.  He wanted their faith to be based on the Spirit and on God’s power, not on a person’s human wisdom or persuasive conversation.
  • In the end, I just don’t understand the disunity presented by Paul, and the Racial Strife here in KC. The only connection I see is the fact that we need to show our Christian love and thereby overcome the disunity of then, and the strife of today.


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Romans

Listening to a podcast on Romans today from Saddleback Church – Crave Thursday. I will post more, but if you want to join in the fun, let me know.

The basic take away so far is the fact that Christians are all the body of Christ. Why do we feel the need to tell one person/domination they are wrong if we are all pursuing God?

I will dive into this more in the coming weeks, but feel free to comment.


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Awaken questions…

Loving the conversation on this website… this is a dialogue I had with those out there.

I met with a friend the other day to talk through some of what life has thrown each of our way. In doing so, he brought up a recent conversation he had with his men’s group. Following is a mixture of my words with his.

Yesterday they were working through the first half of 2 Thessalonians. Long story short, they were thinking about how to grasp the relevance of Paul’s message of hope and end time revelations to this young, struggling, persecuted church. They were trying to grasp it within our experience with “church” in a society/culture that could arguably be categorized as “Christian” or “Post-Christian.” When they broached the idea that our brothers inAfricaand the east were experiencing a concept of “church” that was much more similar to the Thessalonian church, a friend leaned in and offered something rather profound.

“The difference is that these churches are in a very real fight in faith, while we are fighting boredom in our faith.”  Is that really true?  If so, is it due to indifference?  Or, is that due to the fact that I want to be coddled?  Is it due the fact that I don’t want to cause waves or deal with the hard stuff?  Are we becoming so set in our ways that coddling is the preferred way of life rather than causing a wave now and then in order to tell the truth?  Are we choosing to only understand half the story – our loving God and forgetting about our disciplining God?

I find it interesting that we as a church (maybe I should use me) know how to answer the question, “what does it mean to be born again?” but cannot answer the question “What does theKingdomofGodmean?”  I understand why we can answer what it means to be born again – that is a HUGE issue, and I know that Jesus talked about it in John 3 – He actually talked about it twice in the Gospels.  But I just learned today that Jesus mentioned theKingdomofGod“110” times throughout the gospel. 

If God mentioned something 110 times, should we have an answer for that as well?  Are we so fixated on salvation that we have forgotten what it means to be disciples?  Are we so fixated on salvation that we have forgotten the fact that we are suppose to live life differently.  That due to our relationship with Jesus we love people differently.  We forgive people differently.  We do life differently.  If this all because of the desire to be coddled?

Maybe we are afraid of getting hurt.  Maybe we are afraid that someone will take our comments to personal.  Maybe I am afraid to talk about this out loud in fear of being shunned. ..in fear of not being liked or being viewed differently.  But isn’t that the path that I choose? Isn’t living a life that is Christ centered living a life that is different.  The path of least resistance is not always an option. 

You made me think of a lot more questions than answers, so thank you for challenging me.  for making me address my thoughts and issues.


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Trust – what is next?

I am going to start to write about trust over the next few weeks.  As you can see I don’t post everyday, and sometimes not every week, but I am going to try and correct a bit of that.

For me, this blog is coming back to life due to alot of things.  A bible study I am doing with a friend of mine.  Westside Church hitting on topics that touch on some things I need to work on. Kasey’s sermon this weekend.  A calmness that has come about in my whirlwind life.  The list can go on and on.

So with that I extend an offer to join me on this journey.  If you want to join in on the bible study, let me know.  The date we picked is Wednesday mornings at 7:00am.  I can give you details if you like.  The current study is the book of Ephesians.

So many thoughts are running through my head.

Welcome to this newly reclaimed journey.

Michael


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New Vs. Old

As you can probably see, I am doing a series of photos for 2011. These photos will hopefully wake me up from my slumber. Over the past year or so, I have felt a little distant from God. Don’t get me wrong – I love Him. But I feel distant for some reason. There are times when I feel His presence full force, but others I am just sitting there wondering.

Anyway, as the year progresses, I hope to see a bit of a transformation with regard to my physical self (yes lose weight and get in shape), my mental self, and my faith walk (ready for another bible study anyone? Online perhaps?).

Right now I am trying to get my feet squarely grounded, and laying out my past, present and hopes. I really don’t think I can move forward until I know where I have been. For example, this shot is about my past – my life was built on a foundation that included both of my parents, and my grandparents. In particular my Grandma Gray. She worked downtown, and I got to visit her from time to time. This shot of downtown Kansas City reminds me of simpler times.

But looking at the Kansas City sky line, I can also see that life can not stand still. New pops up and replaces old, and old even falls down sometimes or is neglected. I also need to be mindful that old can sometimes be renewed.

My thought moving forward is to build on the good stuff and throw out the bad stuff – all the while with God at my side. If I do that, it will be a fantastic 2011.

Take care my friends.
Michael


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Romans 21-31: Blogger Small Group


This is my installment for the Blogger Small Group post on Romans chapter 3. There is always time for anyone to join in if they like (seeBlogger Small Group Rules/Guidlelines). Right now we are a few weeks into the group, which started in James.

No need to try and catch up, just start in the same place we are and post your opinions.

I ended last week with the comment that 9-20 was basically a good reminder that, since God expects sinless behavior, having sinned righteousness cannot be obtained by doing good. Doing good cannot make up for doing bad. Rather justice demands a penalty to be paid.  Thus Jesus.

From those verses, we move to Righteousness Through Faith.

vs 21-24  thus Jesus, moves us to this section.  We all fall short.  Even if we live a good life, mind our manners, help others… it doesn’t matter without Jesus.  That is what v20 was pointing out, and expanded upon here in v21-24. I read somewhere this statement that I love – we are in a “transitions from speaking of the righteousness which is by the law (a righteousness which is earned by one’s performance) to a righteousness which is from God (a righteousness which is not based on one’s performance, but freely given to those who put their trust in Jesus).”

Now the hard part… this is so hard for me right now.  The reason I mention this is my wife is not a Christian.  I am throwing this out there.  I am sharing something that I have not shared out here before.  She believes in God.  She believes in the power of prayer.  She believes in heaven.  She believes in doing good.  She is one of the most amazing women you will ever met.  She is a wonderful person, helps others, loves others, is truly someone you would want to know.  So I struggle with this section as I realize that she will fall short in God’s eyes.  Because of that, and knowing her, I must be the silent warrior in her life, trying to live by example and offer up a comment or two – never pushing but explaining, living and loving.  I am the active warrior in my daughters’ lives.  They love “it”.  They get “it”.  They want more of “it”.

This divided part of my life, makes the rest really hard.  This part of the scripture is hard… we all fall short thus Jesus – I get that for me.  We all fall short thus Jesus – I get that for my girls, most of my family and friends.  We all fall short thus Jesus – but what about her – now what?  When will the divided road end?

vs 25,26 This again is speaking directly at the Jews.  Here we are talking about the fact that sin, prior to Jesus died, was forgiven by the mercy of God.  But, the penalty for sin had not been paid.  NOW all of that has been taken care of by Jesus and the cross.

vs 31 What a way to end a chapter… “31 Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.”  Faith upholds the law, whether that is mosaic law, or the Gentiles who try to earn their way to heaven because they don’t know the mosaic law.

No matter what, every Jew will admit that they have not lived up to the full extent of the law, and every Gentile will admit that they have done something he knows is wrong.  They failed to live up to the law.  The atonement that came was through Jesus’ death.  God has a way to forgive us without appearing unjust.  All of us falls short, if we believe in Him through Jesus Christ, we will be taken care of.

If we will just believe, we will be taken care of.  Let me rephrase that – If we truly believe, we will be taken care of.  Images that will not go away – Jesus and the cross.

His gift to us… can a person cry out of joy and cry for others at the same time?

Thank you for listening…