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

blogger small group

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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1 Corinthians 2

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Chapter 2 — Philosophy vs. Education  

1 Corinthians 2

Round 2!  Man there is a lot here.  Following are my take aways from this section.  I see a lot of what you were saying when you decided to compare Corinth and Kansas City with regard to this chapter.  So here you go.

  • Paul was relying on God through all of this rather than self-reliance. In KC there are many who look to education being more important.  Living an earthly life.  A good life.  Yes, even an ungodly life.
  • Paul didn’t come to Corinth as a philosopher (even though it was the Roman hotspot if you will). He didn’t come as a used car salesman either – or carpet salesman.  He came to Corinth declaring the testimony of God – the Holy Spirit.  As I have study this section I found that the Greeks and the Romans wanted a speaker who had that shiny veneer finish… the slick salesman… the guy with a golden tongue.  But, Paul didn’t care – he choose to stay out of the way of Christ and the message.  He didn’t want this to be about him – he wanted it to be about Christ.
    • I think about many of the churches here in KC (and I don’t like to talk bad about the bride of Christ) that this might apply to. I also think about the Op-Ed piece I read in the LA Times (http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-0115-zuckerman-secular-parenting-20150115-story.html#page=1 ) and some of the responses people are making on both sides. (If you haven’t read it, I am sure you will find it interesting) Basically I feel that many people who attend church start to focus on human wisdom instead of godly wisdom.  We allow preachers to weave a fantastic story, all the while forgetting to allow the Holy Spirit to open it in our heart.  Many are lured into church with fantastic productions, great praise bands, and free coffee, but forgetting that there is a next step! Are we drawing them in for the free coffee and to boast a great number, or are we drawing them in for a relationship with Jesus.  Sometimes it is hard to tell.
  • I read this quote while research this as well, and it really stuck with me since it flows from the previous point – “If someone’s faith is in the wisdom of men, and not the power of God; if someone can be persuaded into the kingdom by human wisdom, they can be persuaded out of the kingdom by human wisdom also.” Boom – there you go wrapped up with a bow tie.
  • I also have to wonder about saved and unsaved – about mature believers and immature believers. A lot of study, grounded in the bible, has to be done otherwise we will turn to our human self for wisdom.  We will turn to science and the secular community to find purpose and meaning in life.  That is why I firmly believe we need to have three people in our lives – .  1) Someone who is more mature in their faith, 2) someone who is at roughly the same point in their faith, and 3) someone who is not as far along in their faith.  In other words, if all I have in my life are #1s and #3s, I will constantly struggle.  The #1s are always further along than I am in my faith, and there will be times when I will feel like I am failing in some way because I compare myself to him/her.  Sure they will be able to help me and mentor me.  That is part of their role in my life.  But if that is the only person I associate with, I will questions why can’t I be where they are. Why can’t I be right there in terms of my faith walk.  Keep in mind that is just not a fair comparison.  Everyone progresses at a different pace.  The world didn’t just go from being non-Christian to Christian overnight.  In fact, take a look at this website.  This site shows that even after we are Christians, there are a lot more steps to go.  It doesn’t end at the point of being again.  You continue on. I continue on.  http://www.angelfire.com/bc/normanhousechurch/EngleScale.htm
  • I think about it like this – if I am playing a sport – there are going to be a lot of people who are better than me, a lot that are about the same as me, and a lot that are a little worse than me. I have my coaches and star players (the #1s), my other team members at my level (the #2s), and then some who are not as good as me – the JV player (the #3s).
    • My coaches and star players are there to push me and challenge me. They teach me and offer advice. They are there to mentor me.  They are better than me, and they are someone I look up to and aspire to learn more from.
    • My fellow players are the ones that I can go to and talk openly without feeling like I am messing up all the time. I can say, “Hey! How did you do that?”  “Did you get that?”  “What did he just say?”  “I just don’t get it.” And by talking opening with those fellow players you help each other out.  You walk through the problem together.  You start to realize that others are feeling the same way, or are struggling just like you.  Sure we turn to our coaches and star players for help, but there are times when we need to turn to this group as well.  We mentor each other.
    • With regard to those that are not as good as you – the JV player. You are basically their #1.  You are their coach or star player.  You are now the one that they are looking up to and seeking advice from.  You are the one that they are trying to learn from.  You are the varsity player and they are the JV player.  You are basically mentoring them.
  • Personally, I have people in my life at all three levels who fill that role. In many cases I have several people in each of those categories.  But, I will also say that in general I can point to a very small group of individuals who I can count on the most.  I personally feel that it really helps to have all three levels in my life.  If I were to leave out the middle person, I think that I would be floundering.  Then if I were floundering, I wouldn’t be much use to those who are looking up to me for guidance.  Then you throw in the frustration factor and life can take some very wild swings.
  • Through the Holy Spirit we learn about God and His wisdom – not through earthly wisdom. This Holy knowledge is unattainable via human wisdom. It is unattainable through general research.  We need the Holy Spirit to guide that part.  That is why we need to look closer at the bible.  To lean into our faith and those of faith around us.  We need to study the bible and question each other.  Am I reading what you are reading?  Am I hearing what you are hearing?  Am I understanding what you are understanding?  If we rely on us, we are relying on earthly wisdom.
  • As I continue to look over that op-ed piece, I cannot help but see what Paul is saying here. That our belief in Jesus seems foolishness to an unbeliever – basically because he can’t understand our faith and love for Christ because he is using earthly wisdom.  I see it echoed throughout the responses to that article.  I see it among friends who feel it is more important to worry about today than tomorrow and some friendly ghost in the sky. It is more important to make a ton of money than think about the afterlife.  Why waste a brain cell they say.
  • In the end, many in Corinth were pursuing wisdom, but Paul told them that it is the wisdom of God they should be pursuing, and only the truly spiritual will be able to understand it.


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New Debate/discussion for everone

Recently a friend forwarded an article from the LA Times.  It is an op-ed piece titled, “How secular family values stack up.”  intrigued, I decided to have a look, and what I found is probably what I expected.  What I expected, was someone outlining (in my opinion) that religion really isn’t needed in a child’s life.  Wow… look how far our country has fallen if this has started to be the main stream thoughts.

From here, I open up the discussion to all of you, and I will kick it off with my own thoughts on a few points to ponder from the article. The article indicated:

Secular teenagers are far less likely to care what the “cool kids” think – Really??? I think it’s rare that a child doesn’t care – religious or not.

Secular grownups tend to be less vengeful, less nationalistic, less militaristic, less authoritarian and more tolerant, on average, than religious adults… – Again really??? Some of the most vengeful, authoritarian people I know are those who have no moral compass, and no concerns what-so-ever regarding religion or not.  In fact, most people who fall into this category I just mentioned make fun of those who follow their faith.

Atheists were almost absent from our prison population as of the late 1990s, comprising less than half of 1% of those behind bars – Wow what a surprise!!! Especially after you look at the fact that according to a 2012 Pew Report, there are only approximately 2.4% of the US population who indicated that they were atheist to begin with! That is for the entire US. That would mean that 20% of all atheist are in jail. Umm, does anyone else believe that is a little high to you?

Democratic countries with the lowest levels of religious faith and participation today — such as Sweden, Denmark, Japan, Belgium and New Zealand — have among the lowest violent crime rates in the world and enjoy remarkably high levels of societal well-being. Interesting, but from what I have read, this has more to do with how the country handles the crime, and it perception in the community, than whether the country is religious or not. In Japan for example, crime is dealt with quickly and severely, plus is has the added stigma of failure leading some to commit suicide. Is that religion or culture?

Others points to ponder. Since the 1950s, look what has happened:
Substance abuse has increased significantly
Drug Overdoses has almost double in the past 20 years
Alcohol abuse has increased
Abortions have increased – 1950 had about 680, and in 2013 there were 169,368
More children are being born into a single parent homes than ever before
ACT scores have been slowly declining since the late 50s
Number of people going to jail has increased rapidly since 1975
Rape has increased significantly since the 60s
Depressed is at a near all-time high
Teen suicide has more than doubled since 1950 (15-19 year olds – 2.7/100,000 to 7.5/100,000)


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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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New Year’s Resolution – kinda/sorta

lean into HimAnd there you have it… December 31st passed, January 1st arrived, and guess what… I am the same as I was on the 31st (well maybe a day older).  The one thing I like about the 1st, even if I don’t make resolutions, is that it allows me a moment in time to think about the previous year and what changes I need to make in the New Year.

For me, that is letting go of some of the emotional pain I carried through most of 2014.  I have to be honest, I struggled through 2014.  I struggled because there were times when I was leaning on me, and only me.  I struggled at times when I was following my lead instead of His lead.  I was struggling when I allowed my prioritizes to be the “end all” of all prioritizes.

So with that I have come to some conclusions.  2015 will have its challenges, but 2015 will also be a time of personal growth.  It will be a time of reconnections and building of relationships with family and friends, but more importantly with Jesus.  It will be a time of prayer.  It will be a time of forgiveness.  It will be a time of love and respect.  It will be a time where I focus less on me, and more on “you”.  It will be a time to live more Christ like.

I know… I know… that sounds like a New Year’s resolution of sorts.  Well, like I said I choose not to make a resolution because it is merely New Year’s, rather I do it because I need to re-center my life.  Therefore, I choose to recommit my life to Christ.  I choose to find my path again.  I choose to lean into Him more.  I choose to allow Him to carry me and to lead me whenever and where ever He chooses.  I choose to do these things because I have free will and because of God’s perfect love.

For a strong willed person like myself, this is not easy.  I know I will continue to stumble, but I also know I will have some fantastic, memorable days and weeks because of God.

Your brother in Christ,

Michael

PS: If you need a prayer lifted up for you, feel free to let me know.