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Intro to Corinthians

Corinthians  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  25:42
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Shaping a Culture

Who knows who this is?
For the last two years in my work as a Software Developer, this has been my team mascot and our team name. Skeletor.
Skeleton + Store = Skeletor.
This week “team Skeletor” is merging with team “BSP Commerce” to become the less-exciting “Commerce” team.
But we are working through all the messy details of how that happens, really. Are we going to things the way we did them before… or is there a new way?
Are we going to call things the same? Have the same goals? Have the same backlog (aka list of work to be done)? What will be our culture? How will we communicate? How will be organized?
… or are things going to be different? Fundamentally different.

Why Corinthians?

Today we embark on a new series, a study through the book of 1 Corinthians. The question is, out of all the books in the Bible, why pick that one for us to study next?
Here is why. I love seeing in the book of Acts the story of the church just taking root in cities across the world, expanding as the gospel of Christ is shared in city after city. That is inspiring… and we can reflect that as we pray God does something new among us.
Some of the churches faced some brutal persecution, right off the bat. They were radically different, obviously different from their culture and community… and were rejected and persecuted for it. Like the Thessalonians. Paul writes words of comfort and encouragement, calls to battle, keep on fighting. There are churches around the world in that situation… and there may soon be coming a day where that is our present reality… but it isn’t us today.
We face mild discomfort and social pressure, not much in the way of life-threatening persecution.
The church in Corinth, though. Founded by Paul, he served there almost two years. Now some time has passed… and they aren’t being persecuted. That isn’t their struggle.
Their struggle is that the “new team” looks just like the old team.
The “Christians” are starting to look like Corinthians more than they look like Christ.
They are having the same struggles, the same old fights, the same old sins, the same selfishness and striving for wealth and social standing that marks their city… all of that is happening in the church.
And don’t picture one city-wide mega church. Dozens of small churches meeting in homes and rented halls, maybe occasionally gathering together in larger groups.
Let’s remember their founding. In order to enter in to the “story of it”, I’ll read from the Message.
Acts 18:1–18 The Message
After Athens, Paul went to Corinth. That is where he discovered Aquila, a Jew born in Pontus, and his wife, Priscilla. They had just arrived from Italy, part of the general expulsion of Jews from Rome ordered by Claudius. Paul moved in with them, and they worked together at their common trade of tentmaking. But every Sabbath he was at the meeting place, doing his best to convince both Jews and Greeks about Jesus. When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was able to give all his time to preaching and teaching, doing everything he could to persuade the Jews that Jesus was in fact God’s Messiah. But no such luck. All they did was argue contentiously and contradict him at every turn. Totally exasperated, Paul had finally had it with them and gave it up as a bad job. “Have it your way, then,” he said. “You’ve made your bed; now lie in it. From now on I’m spending my time with the other nations.” He walked out and went to the home of Titius Justus, a God-fearing man who lived right next to the Jews’ meeting place. But Paul’s efforts with the Jews weren’t a total loss, for Crispus, the meeting-place president, put his trust in the Master. His entire family believed with him. In the course of listening to Paul, a great many Corinthians believed and were baptized. One night the Master spoke to Paul in a dream: “Keep it up, and don’t let anyone intimidate or silence you. No matter what happens, I’m with you and no one is going to be able to hurt you. You have no idea how many people I have on my side in this city.” That was all he needed to stick it out. He stayed another year and a half, faithfully teaching the Word of God to the Corinthians. But when Gallio was governor of Achaia province, the Jews got up a campaign against Paul, hauled him into court, and filed charges: “This man is seducing people into acts of worship that are illegal.” Just as Paul was about to defend himself, Gallio interrupted and said to the Jews, “If this was a matter of criminal conduct, I would gladly hear you out. But it sounds to me like one more Jewish squabble, another of your endless hairsplitting quarrels over religion. Take care of it on your own time. I can’t be bothered with this nonsense,” and he cleared them out of the courtroom. Now the street rabble turned on Sosthenes, the new meeting-place president, and beat him up in plain sight of the court. Gallio didn’t raise a finger. He could not have cared less. Paul stayed a while longer in Corinth, but then it was time to take leave of his friends. Saying his good-byes, he sailed for Syria, Priscilla and Aquila with him. Before boarding the ship in the harbor town of Cenchrea, he had his head shaved as part of a vow he had taken.
Founded with passion by an awesome leader.
Some years have passed since the excitement of their founding and the church is starting to fracture, to struggle, and to lose sight of love of gospel, love of God, love in the Body of Christ, love for the needy.
Sounds. Like. Us.
We want to be more than a club.
We want to be doing more than checking a “box called church.”
Is Jesus our Lord?
The word “Lord” appears in Corinthians more than any other book… I think because they weren’t living in a way that declared Jesus as Lord…
Bible Study Project has these awesome introductory videos that give us a tour of what we are going to read and study in Corinthians. Let’s watch:

Intro to Corinthians

<Bible Study Project Video>
One of the earliest books in the New Testament (after James, Thessalonians and perhaps Galatians), Corinthians is written to a church struggling to be the church. Corinth is a multicultural, educated, prosperous city characterized by individualism striving for wealth and popularity... and the church is looking much like the world around them.
I don’t want to fall apart like the church in Corinth was… I want to be united as the People of God, with the People of God, in the church local, with the Church Global.
I want to be the Body of Christ… as Paul writes to the Corinthians.
I want to be the temple of the Holy Spirit… as Paul writes to the Corinthians.
This week, I challenge you to read this letter. Often called one of the World’s Greatest Letters for it’s descriptions on how to love one another.
Read it as a family.
Read it in your devotions.
Let's learn anew how to live as the people of God, the Body of Christ, the temple of the Holy Spirit in an increasingly non-Christian world.
Let’s pray for our time in study over the next weeks.
I’m going to pray for your time of reading this letter this week. May God speak.
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