SER # 4W
FIRST UMC – NEBRASKA CITY
SUNDAY JANUARY 26TH 2020
TEXTS: 1 CORINTHIANS 1: 10 – 18
THEME: CHRISTIAN UNITY
There is a slogan that says unity is power. When people, forces, ideas, dreams, with the same purpose they will achieve much. That why people share dreams and ideas so that together they can pull in one direction. The question that people will always ask is if in unity there is room for diversity. The answer is yes. The first example of unity we find in the Trinity (God the father, God the Son God the Holy spirit) Creator, redeemer sanctifier. The trinity has to function together. When those diverse ideas come together, they create a great force. That is why in the world countries have created alliances and churches have come up with the word ecumenism. This why churches of different inclines chose to work together for the good of the people. Therefore, you will read of ecumenical groups like: world council of churches, national council of churches, the Lutheran hour and on we go. We know today what we call the church has allowed itself to be so divided along many theological interpretations that have real effect on how churches relate to each other. But we also know that people have come together to create association for the good of all people disregarded some of the deep-rooted differences. We have ministerial association in our town that I would say more than 90% of Churches are represented. We gather to discuss and implement our common good of the community. We as the church have to be aware through church history there has been divisions. Like what the United Methodist is going through now but it will survive and will give birth to new form of churches that will still continue with the work of God. We do not know yet how that will look like. One of the early church dividers was the Holy communion. The holy communion was church a divider because people had different interpretation what happens to the element once they are consecrated. The question was when we consecrate the bread and the juice do, they become the real body and blood of Christ or the are representative. What do we do with the leftovers? At one time what started at a local church by communion stewards divided the church. The question was what do you do if a fly fall in the communion cup? Do you pour it or remove the fly and drink it? This argument took a lot of church time yet there was no fly which had fallen in the communion cup yet. There were many dividers in the early Church but somehow the church still expanded and reached many. Missionaries went out and preached the good news. The preached about Jesus saving grace. They dd not waste their time arguing who should be included at the communion table. Paul, in our text seem to be addressing a division that was caused by personality preferences (Between Paul and Apollo). Paul, in our story was trying to let people know that they can’t allow themselves to be divided between him and Apollos. Each of them God gave specific task but all to the glory of God’s kingdom. It is not unusual even today to see churches divided along the lines of personalities.
Paul’s message to the church is unity. The United Methodist Church today is faced with the challenge of division. The church as we have seen has been divided before as I mentioned earlier and God has a way of sustaining his church. We should not be afraid of separation because in separation God brings new growth.
We are called to unit our spirit in three ways:
- Unite in worship
- Unite in fellowship
- Unite in love
When we live in this kind of unity, we as people of God are able to do the following:
- Move from darkness to light: The bible reminds us several times that we are children of light. We need to make the little light that we possess to shine. What this simply means is that we can’t be engaged with those things that are done in the darkness. In the darkness people experience injustice, hate, fear, division, backstabbing, and the list can go on. Jesus came to bring the light to the world so that we are able to see with the lenses of God. God lenses sees each one of us as a beloved child of God. we may have our own shortfalls but still God loves us and count us on his side. Darkness represents sin and all sinful acts. Light represent Christ and his holiness.
- From where we are to where we should be: Faith life is a journey, this journey John Wesley called it growing to perfection or in the words of Paul moving from glory to glory. We start by drinking the baby milk and graduate to adults’ food. Our destination is heaven with our creator. When Jesus healed the people, he asked them to go and show themselves to the priest or to the church before they start following him. Where are you in your faith journey. Let us walk towards the finish line.
- From despair to hope: Paul was reminding his listeners that they have to be willing to move forward in their faith. We are invited by Jesus to take a step of faith from where we are and trust that in his leadership, we will make it through life. When people despair in life many things go wrong. To despair is to give up and allow our failure to define who we are. Paul remind us we are more than conquers and we should never allow anything to separate us from the love of Christ. “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written ‘for your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8: 35 – 37). Jesus Christ came to give hope to the world. We can’t afford to give up on the quest of doing what is right. It might feel as though we are not making a difference but we are. We are touching the world by our small acts of kindness.
- From aimlessness to purpose: Our faith journey is a focused journey. We run toward the goal, and when we finish, we receive the crown. Paul put it this way. “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do; forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead. I press toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12 – 14). We have to live a life with a purpose. A life with a purpose change those around. The writer of Proverbs put it this way, “A life devoted to things is a dead life, a stump; a God shaped life is a flourishing tree” (Proverbs 11:28) (Msg). Here the purpose is that which the creator intended. Here I am not thinking of self-success in your carrier, business or even your family though this might come. What is it that your creator intended for you? God the creator had a purpose when he created us. our challenge today is to go back in the manual the bible and check out.
- From silent to witness: There are several bible stories that we read where people move from silence to witness. Let us begin with the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4). When she met Jesus and she accepts his offer of drinking from the living well she went back to a village and told about Jesus. When Jesus healed the blind man, he testified to the Pharisees that he was blind but now he could see. When God touches our lives, we can never be the same. We have to go and tell of his goodness to the world.