One another

SERMON LEFTOVERS 5.08.17

‘Do You Fully Know Your Rights?’

 

1 Corinthians 8:1-13

 

This may sound like a chapter to pass over quickly; who has a problem with food sacrificed to idols? The issue is how should a gospel-shaped community exercise our rights and freedoms?

Exercising freedom is a 2-edged sword:  as we cast off restrictions, we may also cast off responsibility

What rights and consequences were at stake in Corinth?

Controversy about eating food sacrificed in pagan temples

A portion of an animal sacrificed was sold in market; and part was used in temple dining rooms. These rooms were used for feasts or private functions

Some Corinthians knew the ‘gods’ of idols are not real. Their knowledge gave them freedom to eat temple food v4

Other Corinthians still struggled with their old association with idols v7, and some fell into giving old respect to idols

Apostle Paul had two concerns about how this issue was affecting the church

1. Pride in the hearts of those with a fuller knowledge vs 1-2

Yes, we have knowledge about idols, ‘but’ what about love?

Their concern stopped with the correctness of their position

Paul reminds them that God requires more than correctness

2. Paul was concerned about harm to those with weaker faith v9-10

Your freedoms have consequences for fellow-believers

Some will follow your lead to places that are unhealthy for them

 

The Corinthians were looking at their own rights and knowledge

Paul introduces a God-centered perspective that guides us just as well

1. Truth does not equal love; truth needs love v1

The Corinthians were lifting up truth, without the responsibility of love

Knowledge by itself ‘puffs up’; it builds us up in pride and selfishness

Love uses knowledge to ‘build up’ others

But they were using knowledge to ‘destroy’ i.e. to tear down

Don’t miss the significance of v3:  What does it mean to be known by God?

For God, ‘knowing’ is not detached from his intentional care

If God was only interested in truth, we would remain condemned

We saw in chapters 1-2, the Corinthians thought themselves wise, v2 this is proof you’re not

True wisdom is like a rope made with strands of knowledge, love and humility

2. Our rights and freedoms are to be used for the glory of Christ

v4-5 Paul affirms their correct theology about empty idols

Then he adds a declaration about the true God v6

Just as you know idols are nothing – realize that God is everything

God gives us freedoms, but we are use them on our knees

We are free to enjoy life in food, music, film, art; but these are not life giving

Colossians 3:4 ‘Christ is your life’ – let nothing diminish that

Beware false freedoms: the “freedom” to live unguarded, to be unaccountable, or to live for ourselves

3. When we misuse a fellow-believer, we misuse Christ v12

How we treat fellow-believers is a prominent way we reveal empty knowledge

‘Know’ this: God is displeased when we misuse one-another

If we refuse to participate in the responsibilities of our church – the rest have to carry it all

If we harbor negative attitudes and bitterness

When we come to our own negative conclusions, that is slander in our heart

When we refuse to pursue the gospel’s agenda of reconciliation

Principles to keep in mind when you struggle with fellow-believers

Your eternity will be shared with them

Christ formed the church, our covenant together is his idea

Jesus shed his blood for them and God is for them

LET’S TALK

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It may seem awkward at first.

How do you bring it up?

God that is. In conversation. With other believers.

We should also be bringing up God in conversation with unbelievers, but that’s a different article.

When we are with fellow believers, our conversation should never be far from God.

This might include a question we had while reading the Bible, a conviction that encouraged us in small group, something that struck us in a recent sermon, an attitude we struggle with at work, or what we felt while singing worship songs in the car this afternoon.

We will bring up some subject matter, is there anything more worthy or helpful to discuss with brothers and sisters in Christ? Developing this habit will help us to fulfill many of the “one another” passages that are so vital for biblical community:

“Addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” (Ephesians 5:19)

“Teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom” (Colossians 3:16)

“Encourage one another and build one another up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

“Exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:130

“Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24)

 

There are many benefits when we frequently talk about God

It will help us cultivate biblical thinking

Our actions will become increasing influenced by what we believe

It will help the truths that we are reading and hearing about God to take root in our mind

Other believers will be influenced to be more God-centric in their thinking

Our children will learn that God really is the biggest person in our life

It replaces wasteful and self-centered conversation

Sin will find it harder to find a resting place in our minds

Our faith is built up as we remember our God stories, and hear them from others

Gospel conversation with people who don’t know Christ might become more natural

God will be pleased

I must confess, I am writing this out of need rather than out of strength. There have been many times when I have realized after a conversation that I wasted an opportunity to be engaged in meaningful God talk with someone.

 

This is a habit worth cultivating.

Let’s help each other improve at it.

We can start by simply asking one another, “What thoughts have you had about God this week?”

This is a habit that has to benefit us. How wonderful will be the affects.

WELL, NOT LIKE THAT

Biblical community is a frequent theme in my prayers, conversation, preaching and blogging.

This is driven by the emphasis that the Bible places on it

A consistent use of terminology in the New Testament is that of our responsibilities to “one another”. The New Testament instructs the church with this phrase dozens of times as I pointed out in this blog post.

In spite of the emphasis I like to give to this phrase, I must admit that Ray Ortlund is correct when he points out there are some one anothers we “can’t find in the Bible”.

If you are interested in knowing what they are, you will enjoy this article by Ray

 

 

“ONE ANOTHER”

There are approximately 50 “one another” statements in the New Testament Epistles describing how we as the church should respond to well, “one another”.

As you read over this list, ask whether or not your participation in the life of your church fulfills this picture. The fact that this issue is presented so often in the Bible, reveals that God considers it to be a significant issue. Do we?

Romans 12:10  Outdo one another in showing honor.

Romans 12:16  Live in harmony with one another

Romans 15:7  welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you

2 Corinthians 13:11  Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace

Ephesians 4:2  with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love

Ephesians 4:32  Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you

Ephesians 5:19  addressing one another in psalms and hymns

Ephesians 5:21  submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ

Colossians 3:16  teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom

1 Thessalonians 5:11  encourage one another and build one another up

1 Thessalonians 5:15  See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another

Hebrews 3:13  exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin

Hebrews 10:24  let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works

James 5:16  confess your sins to one another and pray for one another

1 Peter 4:9  Show hospitality to one another without grumbling

1 Peter 4:10  As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another

1 Peter 5:5  Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another

1 John 4:11  if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another

What should NOT take place with one another

Romans 14:13  let us not pass judgment on one another any longer

1 Corinthians 6:7  To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you

1 Corinthians 12:25  May (there) be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another

Galatians 5:15  if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another

Galatians 5:26  Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another

Colossians 3:9  Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices

Hebrews 10:25  not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another

James 4:11  Do not speak evil against one another, brothers

James 5:9  Do not grumble against one another, brothers

The bottom line is that we cannot fulfill these things unless we are committed to biblical community in our church. How are you connected? Do you stop at being friendly or are you involved in the lives of people in your church?

Like all the wisdom of Scripture, this is more than an expectation of God, it is also meant to be a blessing from God.

ONE ANOTHER

Several weeks ago I gave a sermon found here presenting the mutual responsibilities that all Christians have toward “one another”. In western culture we typically think first of our individualism. Although we are individually saved, our growth and responsibilities do not remain in the arena of individualism. We are part of something far grander – if we will just step into it!

The word pictures that the Bible uses for the church emphasize interconnection: the body of Christ, a temple for God and the family of God. The pictures tell us that to live for Christ we must live in connection to other believers. There is no way around it; to neglect this truth is to live in neglect and disobedience to Christ.

Character building and Christ following require connection with fellow believers.

How are we connected with the people of our church? Is it simply surface friendliness or do we care for one another? Are we acquaintances or do we share life with one another? I understand wanting to hold back and keep in my own world, however I also know how satisfying it is to see my life have meaningful interaction with fellow believers, both in my church and in other parts of the world.

If honesty leads you to the conviction that you are not part of “one another” in any significant way, the good news is that there are simple steps you can take right now. Talk to a pastor about being part of a small group. Ask a mature believer to participate with you in a mentoring role. If you are in a small group, pray for the people in that group, and spend time with them beyond official meeting times.

Sharing life with one another is work, but it also brings richness and grace into our life. God works in us and He works through us when we faithfully connect with one another. These are wonderful realities to experience.

But don’t put this off – do something today!

The One Another chart above is from the Visual Theology series by Tim Challies. If you click on the image it will get large enough to see the writing (the first click may make it smaller, click again to fill your screen). You can see the rest of the Visual Theology series at this link