Series A - Second Sun. after the Epiphany
TEXT: I Corinthians 1:1-9
THEME: We are a holy people called to holy service by our holy Savior.
TITLE: "There's No Shame In Being Rich"
With a craggy, twisted face, a wagging, pointing, crooked finger, Satan whispers his accusations about us...Corinth was a sinking city...The quicksand of sin, shame had sucked this city into a quagmire of perversion. 600,000 citizens were 2/3rds slaves with most Christian converts in thelower steps of the social ladder. Christ was their only status, His cross their only symbol for hope. Here, God's appointed apostle speaks to their needs.
I. PAUL WAS CALLED TO BE AN APOSTLE.
Paul needed to establish his credentials among the Corinthian congregation in a city noted for its immorality, perversion and corruption.
The very name of Corinth conjured up notions of notoriety and vice.
It was Las Vegas with less morality, less law and far greater vice.
Many answered the tempters call to engage in all manner of sexual perversion...Including some in the church.
Paul had once quipped that he could not address the congregation as spiritually mature, but as "mere infants" in Christ.
So Paul establishes his credentials as an apostle...one who speaks not for himself, but for Christ.
A true calling is something that God does...people cannot choose it for themselves.
The authority and truth that is spoken is not the authority/truth of the individual, but that of God.
This is still true today: God calls, God speaks through those He calls.
Many a false teacher may be recognized when the individual speaks with his own authority, issuing his own truth; often with the preamble: "God told me..." then contradicting the teachings of God.
Paul's message is not a timid one...it is stereophonic...heard in Law and Gospel.
Paul never tiptoes around the truth...he never sugarcoats its...his yes is yes and his no is no...he's a what-you-see-is-what-you-get sort of guy.
To this unstable and divided congregation at Corinth, Paul reveals God clear Word and Will concerning them.
God hates sin.
God has saved us and washed us clean in Christ.
Now we can serve Him in righteousness and holiness.
II. WE ARE CALLED TO BE SAINTS.
Just as Paul was called to be an apostle, we too are called to be His holy people.
It's a truth that we find difficult, if not impossible, to believe!
Satan is always there: condemning, discounting, debasing, tempting.
His every move is to discourage and accuse...And we often buy it!
"Yes, I sin a lot, therefore, I cannot be God's child....Dispair!
"Even when I go to church, I end up questioning my own motives for being there."...Dispair!
"I want to serve God, but I don't seem to have any gifts or abilities that would be useful."...Inadequacy! Guilt! Inferiority! Failure to Serve!
"The power of the cross must not apply to me!"
Tragically, then, we pass the dispair, the guilt, the inadequacy along to others so that we can feel better about ourselves.
This is the birthplace of bigotry, racism and hatred.
It is a denial of the teachings of the goodness of God's creation....and the all availing sacrifice of Christ on the cross for all people.
Wherever people are discounted and degraded, it is proof positive of Satan at work!
Now there is a guilt that is appropriate before God.
It is guilt that our sins require repentence before God.
The knowledge of our sin is a painful knowledge but essential if we are to know God at all.
The Law of God is an unyielding, unflinching means by which we must see the reality of what sin has done to us.
Inappropriate guilt only leads to the humiliation, shame and dispair we've talked about...It is guilt that goes nowhere.
This is guilt that will not accept the grace of the cross.
This is guilt that will not see the compassion of the Father.
This kind of guilt is tantamount to unbelief...a refusal of the grace of God in Christ.
III. IN CHRIST WE HAVE BEEN ENRICHED IN EVERY POSSIBLE WAY!
ILLUS: Enriched cereal....Visit to Kellogs cereal factory...vitamins were sprayed on... something beneficial was added...it wasn't previously there!
So too, is a spiritual deficiency rectified by Christ on Calvary:
Sin is not forgotten, it is punished...Jesus was the recepient!
Grace was not original equipment...it is a gift of God.
Holiness was not our own...it is a gift reflecting the holiness of Jesus.
We have been made rich is life...eternal life forever with God through Christ!
What treasure is greater?
What possession is better?
What future is more preferable?
But our enrichment does not stop with the incredible gift of life in heaven, because we also receive abundant life now!
He strengthens our faith as we continue in our exposure to the Word and the Sacraments.
It is the place of feeding, of strengthening, of refreshement.
Is your faith seemingly unimportant to you? Then know your need... study the Word, receive the body/blood, come to worship and your hunger for revelancy will be answered.
He strengthens us for service in His name:
Not one of us is despensible!...God has ordained a role for us all!
He gives freely of His larder of gifts, talents and abilities.
Our problem is not a lack of skills or talents, it is our frequent unwillingness to use what we have received!
Result: Short-changed ministry, Short-changed resources and Short-changed impact for the Gospel of Christ.
The Corinthian congregation had everything they needed to be powerful force for the Christ in that sin-sick city...and so do we!
The challenge is clear: Shall we use what God has given us?
Or shall we settle for the mediocrity we have come to accept as normal.
Shall we reflect the light of Christ or shall we succumb to the guilt that leads nowhere.
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