Serving Christ and sharing the Gospel

True Unity (1 Cor 11:17-34)

Like most people I have been many things in my life, pest, pain, big brother, son, apprentice, service engineer, husband, company director, managing director, an ordinand, deacon, create, and some more common not nice names but the best is “Dad”. The best title or position I’ll ever hold is “Dad.” I absolutely love being a dad to my daughter and son. It is a privilege and a joy.

I read the other day that someone said “Nothing I’ve ever done has given me more joys and rewards than being a father to my children.” And that is so true. Next week I get to give my eldest my daughter away at her wedding, people have asked will you take the service and what I tell them is what Louise my daughter said which is Dad you are the Farther of the Bride not the vicar, and to be honest when your daughter is little and playing at this stuff, you find yourself dreaming about that day, I may be giving Louise away but I know we will never by far apart, my son is the wonder he spent best part of two years traveling the country in a van with a Christian professional touring theatre, then two years in York and now two years in Cambridge,    but he is never far from my thoughts and my heart. Evan if he does forget how to use the phone some times, but that is most boys, well at least in my family including myself.

As a father, the greatest gift I can receive is when another person says something nice about one of our kids, and of course what hurts the most is when one of them is hurt, that I find the most difficult to deal with, now their adults but I still want to rush to their side, hold them make everything right and destroy the other person.

But what is particularly upsetting is when one of them was hurtful to the other. Did you know that God the Father feels the same way I do? He absolutely loves being a dad. He cares about each of His children in the deepest way imaginable. But what saddens Him is when one of His children hurts another one of His children. Worse yet, when one of His children who has been given much dishonours one who has little. Or where one slanders another, when one looks down on another for whatever reason. God will not tolerate divisions within His body—the church.  The reason is simple: God is really, really, serious about His body the church his people.

In our reading of 1 Cor 11:17-34,  Paul provides three examples for us to follow.

1. Include the entire body of Christ in worship (11:17-22).

In the first six verses of our reading, Paul rebukes the church at Corinth for being divided. Paul does not hold back hear he is telling it as it is, he is being honest no soft pastoral gentle approach, Paul says - I have NO praise for you, you are doing more harm than good.

Now in our reading Paul is talking about the Lords supper and the selfishness that is going on when the church comes together to celebrate the Lords supper. But the same came be applied to any aspect of our lives as Christians, we may be doing what Jesus said in part loving the Lord our God with all our heart with all our soul and with all our mind, but are we loving our neighbour, and just as when my kids were little, it hurts God when two of his children have fallen out when they have not forgiven each other and when they have created division, the body of Christ the church should show to the world what it is like to love each other, to forgive and to accept that forgivness.

Yes we are not always going to love each other as we love our spouse or our kids or our best friends but we should love each other despite the things that drive us nuts about each other.

I found myself at Chelmsford Cathedral a couple of weeks ago supporting Dean, Jane and Mike, don’t worry this has nothing to do with them, but in the service we shared the peace and behind me was a man who had been the cause of a lot of hurt to a friend of mine, but still a brother in Christ, I shook his hand and wished him the peace of Christ and I meant it, I forgave him in that moment, and for all time. That was and is gift from God if we want it if we let God Holy spirit work within us, before the service if I had known he was going to be behind me I would not have seat there, carrying un-forgiveness hurts us and hurts God.

Have you noticed that when two little boys are friends and they fall out they fight and then they get on with playing after a brief grumpy time often not to long, as long as the adult does not come in and wind the situation up, the boys will make up. Now I would be a fool if I told you we could all get along without every falling out at some point, but the thing is to forgive to forget and to love each other. We do things we say things that others find hurtful, forgive and live life free of that niggling hurt. If we don’t do this then this deeply grieves the heart of God, for God is as I said very serious about His body. A few weeks ago I spoke about how God knows what is in our hearts and in a short while when we share the peace, God would love it if with a forgiving heart you could share the peace with that brother or sister in Christ that has wind you up or hurt you in some way and in your heart ask God to forgive them and to forgive you for holding on to that hurt.

2. Recapture the significance of the Lord’s Supper (11:23-26)

The crucifixion of Jesus has an ongoing meaning to all who call Jesus Lord. We continue to partake in his death and in the new pledge we made, because we participate in his life. Paul wrote, “Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? (1 Corinthians 10:16).

In the Lord’s Supper, we show that we share in Jesus Christ. We are in community with him, with Jesus. We are united in him. The New Testament speaks of our sharing with Jesus in several ways. We share in his crucifixion (Galatians 2:20; Colossians 2:20), death (Romans 6:4), resurrection (Ephesians 2:6; Colossians 2:13; 3:1) and life (Galatians 2:20). Our lives are in him, and he is in us. The Lord’s Supper pictures this spiritual reality.

John 6 conveys a similar idea. After Jesus proclaimed himself to be the “bread of life,” he said, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day” (verse 54). Our spiritual food is in Jesus Christ. The Lord’s Supper pictures this ongoing truth. “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him” (verse 56). We show that we live in Christ, and he lives in us.

So the Lord’s Supper helps us look upward, to Christ, and be mindful that true life can only be in him and with him. When we are aware that Jesus lives in us, we also pause to think what kind of home we are giving him.

A few weeks ago a women came in to church and berated me for not having the church open all the time, the fact that I could not man the church building 24/7 was not an issue, you don’t have to be here, “it should be open so I can come and pray”. Yes, the church building helps people focus on God and give some a sense of God’s peace, but God’s home is in us, in our body, mind and soul, so what kind of home are we asking Jesus into? What kind of home are we asking the Holy Spirit into?

3. Judge yourself to avoid God’s judgment (11:27-32)

By judging others in an unbiblical and hypocritical way, we pay an enormous price. In every case, our choice to criticise another person causes severe damage in our lives. Ridiculing others exposes us to the righteous judgment of God, and we bring more suffering on ourselves by our complaints against one another than we are aware of (James 5:9). Judging people and accusing them is what Satan does (Revelation 12:10). In addition to ruining other people’s lives,  judging others:

  • Robs us of hope – Our critical spirit steals our joy and peace, making it impossible to trust in God’s power (Romans 15:13).
  • Attempts to question God’s authority – When we judge another, our sins become magnified in God’s eyes (John 8:3-7).
  • Pollutes our heart – When we judge, we often intend cruelty, while slandering another person (Mark 7:20-23).
  • Makes us vulnerable to hatred – We plant seeds of un-forgiveness and condemnation that take root in our hearts and minds (Proverbs 6:16-19).
  • Places us in opposition to God – Our refusal to humble ourselves cultivates pride (1 Peter 5:5-6).

Why should we forgive? Because God loves us and wants us to be united as His body.

So in closing, be united As Christians, with all our imperfections and failures, God chose to see us as holy and blameless (Ephesians 1:4). God also gives us a choice.

  • Forgive Others – Let Christ’s peace rule your heart (Colossians 3:12-15).
  • Comfort Others – Manifest God’s mercy (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
  • Honour Others Above Yourself – Imitate Christ’s humility (Philippians 2:3-5).
  • Encourage Others – Gain Christ’s treasures (Colossians 2:2-3).
  • Love Others – Let God live through you as you live in Him (1 John 4:16).

God forgives us if we ask him to and Jesus came to pay the price for our sins because God loves us, if we love God we should live as God intended us to live in love and fellowship with each other.

Let’s pray: Lord thank you for your love for us and please forgive me for my un-forgiveness and Lord guide me to make full face to face amends for the wrongs I have done. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.