SER # 7W
C – NEBRASKA CITY
SUNDAY FEBRRUARY 16TH 2020
TEXTS: 1 CORINTHIANS 3: 1 – 9
THEME: WORKING TOGETHER FOR GOD.
Paul is inviting us to the understanding that we need to grow in our faith otherwise we will be like babies living on baby food. The depth of people understanding of God’s working that what makes a difference when it comes to growing up. Paul later in the book he continues to teach the importance of unity as a way of being able to work as a body of Christ. “The body is a unit though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many they form one body. So, it is with Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:12). When Jesus called his Disciples he expected them to work as a team. He knew that they were gifted differently and that is why they made the best team. When we turn our lives to Jesus is like we have asked to be employed in the Lord’s Vineyard. We become co-workers with Jesus to invite people to God’s Kingdom. Being able to work together with God we are invited to take care of the following basics in order to succeed:
- Keep off Jealousy: When Jesus invites us to his vineyard, we have to accept the offer. God never forces any of us to be a believer but out of our own conviction we turn our lives to Jesus. This might happen because somebody has shared the good news and we have believed and turned our lives to God. This means some will turn to the Lord early in their life while others may come later but the promise that we are all given is the same. Jesus explained about the Kingdom of heaven using very practical images that people would understand. Jesus told this story with a parable of the master who was looking for people to work in his vineyard and went to the market place to hire them. In those days people looking for days work had a special place they gathered at the market place and people hiring would go there. I remember in Nairobi Kenya when we lived there, there was a corner(Tom Mboya and Moi Avenue) where you would go and get painters, plumbers and other artisans for hire “For the Kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire men to work in his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard” (Matthew 20:1-2). He went out there first at nine a.m. again at noon and again at three. When the day work came to an end each was paid the same amount starting with those, he hired at three for that what he had promised each team. This did not go down well with the team that came in the morning (Nine) for they were expecting to be paid more that those who started work later (Three). What the morning crew may have forgotten was that the master paid them as they had agreed before starting work. The lesson for us here is we can’t afford to be jealousy of whatever gifts or blessings other people receive because it is the master’s prerogative to give what he has promised. Those who believe in Jesus Christ and live their faith to the end will receive eternal life. It does not matter when you committed your life to God whether at young age or older age, the reward is the same -eternal life. Paul had to remind the church in Corinth to avoid falling in this trap of being jealousy of one another. We are all God’s children none is above the other in any way. Our father gives us different gifts and some of the gifts produce more attraction than others (healing miracle working, prophecy…….) while other gifts like preaching evangelism may not be seen as so great and people pulling. But each gift is important to the extension of God’s Kingdom.
- Avoid infighting: As a young church the infighting could have been caused by a number of things: a) leadership struggle – As a young church there is a possibility that the people were fighting to know who would be in charge of what. Who become the worship leader, chairperson, treasurer and the list can go on. Paul was reminding them this kind of behavior made them remain as spiritual babies. For when people grow in their faith they don’t fight over those issues but believe that people are gifted differently. The main business of a believer is to bring non-believers to Christ not to be the chair or a leader. We know having leadership in an organization is important. b) Jews vs gentiles – Though someone would think that Corinth was mainly gentiles because it was a gentile city, there were many other groups of people from other parts of the world because it was a big trading center. There were many cultures that interacted and this may have found its way to the church. Once in the church it can manifest itself into small groups that would be fighting for special recognition in the church. c) Who get what? Who owns what and who controls where can be a challenge in a young church that is finding its way to grow. We read of the decision to appoint deacons to deal with serving the tables because some groups of people felt neglected. “In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian(Greek speakers) Jews among them complained against the Hebraic(Hebrew speakers) Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food” (Acts 6:1). Thanks to the Apostles then because of this problem the created the office of Deacons. That where Stephen became one of the very known deacons who was later stoned for his faith by a team lead by Saul (later Paul). Maybe that why the was infighting trying to get a share in the ministry. But again, Paul is warning the church infighting without seating down and coming with a solution means they were not mature in their faith. In order for the Church of Christ to grow people have to put aside their personal interest and seek that which glorifies God.
- Avoid divisions: In this church of Corinth there were two major divisions along personalities that were threatening the church. Paul had to address the issue directly. We may remember that Paul was a missionary who went all over Asia minor planting churches. He would train or recruit people who would be left behind nurturing the churches. He had another team that would go with him. In this case the division was between him and Apollo. Apollo was part of the seventy apostles. He was a well-educated Jew. He was introduced to faith by two women Priscilla and Aquilla (Acts 18: 24-28; 19: 1 -7). He became a very effective apostle by his own rights. He became a bishop. Later in life he retired in the Island of Crete with Zenas who was a lawyer and his ministry companion. The people made the mistake of thinking that Paul and Apollo were two men in different camps. They forgot that these people represented the same Christ who they all believed in. each preacher brings their own gifts to the people they are called to serve. That is why it is usually wrong for the congregation to think that the new minister ought to fill the shoes of the previous minister. Every minister brings his or her own shoes and they might not be the same size with the previous minister.
The kingdom that is divided within itself will never stand at the time of challenges. This is true to a family, organization, a church community or even a fraternity. We are one in the Lord and we are one in Spirit let us much forward as united people of God and face the evil that is destroying our world.