SERMON: LOVING THE BODY: THE ACTION AND RESULT
READING: I CORINTHIANS 13
INTRO: To read I Corinthians chapter 13 as simply a "hymn of love," is to do a great injustice to the situation it addressed. The church at Corinth was the most troubled group we have record of, with divisions, indifference to sexual sin, court cases against one another and chaotic worship services. Chapter 13 falls in the middle of the worship section for good reason. Simply put, "Nothing you do to worship is worth anything unless it is done in love." The Christians were being told that right ritual, spiritual giftedness, and sacrificial living will not take the place of the simplest act done in love. Love is both the centre and circumference of being a Christ- follower.
These saints would have known that Jesus said, "by this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one other," but they seem to have lost their focus. Perhaps their abundance of gifts(cf. 1:7) had clouded their vision. So, we see I Corinthians chapter 13 as a one-word corrective formula for their Sunday worship gatherings, as a direct application of the words of Jesus.
I) THEY WERE WORSHIPING GOD IN THE ABSENSE OF LOVE FOR ONE ANOTHER
A) This Was Evident When They “Came Together As A Church”
1) They disregarded Biblical authority and order
2) Their meetings were not designed to edify others
3) They competed with their gifts from God
4) The met for worse not for better
5) And they did not eat the Lord’s Supper.
(a) They went through the motions
(b) But did so without regard for body members
B) Paul Seeks To Bring Them Back To “The More Excellent Way”
1) I Corinthians 13:1-3
2) The only key prescribed by Jesus as ID was missing!
(a) Their reputation was of division, sin, and lack of love.
(b) It seems that at this time were on a treadmill of right ritual and wrong motives. If so, all would be in vain.
(c) Jesus said to them and to us, “you will be identified as my disciples by the way you love one another.”
II) WHEN WE COME TOGETHER LOVE IS LACKING
A) This Is Not Intended To Indict Everyone
1) Some convey that meeting with the body are high points.
2) While together for a short time on Sunday, they act happy and thankful to be with others and have their support.
3) If other meetings are called they seem to want to be there.
B) But Love For Others Should Show Itself More Often/Fully
1) We are concerned about high quality song leading, the attire of those leading, the types of songs that some think appropriate, where we sit, how scriptural, how long, and how entertaining the sermon is, and the order of worship.
2) These concerns should not overshadow our love for those who lead or the rest of us.
(a) But I don’t see/hear/feel a strong emotional tie between some members.
(b) What must others see? Some have stated that they would not bring a visitor here! Sad commentary!
3) Tertullian, a leader in the church in the 3rd century, wrote, “It is mainly the deeds of love so noble that lead many to put a brand on us. See, they, how they love one another, for they themselves are animated by mutual hatred; how they are ready even to die for one another, for they themselves will soon put to death.”
C) Is There More To This?
1) If we were so in love with God that imperfections in others would fade a little?
2) If we had a larger congregation with programs for all ages would that make us happy?
3) Do we think that worship is about us and not God-ward? Glorifying Him is it.
D) Please Take One Minute To Think About Your Relationship To All Others Here.
1) LOVE: A PARAPHRASE OF I CORINTHIANS 13
2) Be thinking about this:
(a) There are other convenient paraphrases suited to clowns, teachers and missionaries.
(b) In the second hour I will ask you to compose a paraphrase that is focussed on “one-another.”
III) TWO SUGGESTIONS FROM A FELLOW TRAVELER
A) Cease Destructive Thinking And Behaviour
1) Love and gossip do not co-habit
2) Making fun of a brother can never be constructive
B) Allow “Love One Another” To Lead You To Pray and Read
1) Read more of the “One another” passages.
2) Pray the GOD will help you make allowances for others
3) ILLUST: What Would You Do?
CONCLUSION: Blest Be The Tie That Binds
EXTRA MATERIAL USED IN THIS LESSON
LOVE: A PARAPHRASE OF 1 CORINTHIANS 13
If I talk a lot about God and the Bible and the Church, but I fail to ask
about your needs and then help you, I'm simply making a lot of empty
If I graduate from theological seminary and know all the answers to
questions you'll never even think of asking, and if I have all the degrees
to prove it and if I say I believe in God with all my heart, and soul and
strength, and claim to have incredible answers to my prayers to show it, but
I fail to take the time to find out where you're at and what makes you laugh
and why you cry, I'm nothing.
If I sell an extra car and some of my books to raise money for some poor
starving kids somewhere, and if I give my life for God's service and burn
out after pouring everything I have into the work, but do it all without
ever once thinking about the people, the real hurting people-the mums and
dads and sons and daughters and orphans and widows and the lonely and
hurting-if I pour my life into the Kingdom but forget to make it relevant to
those here on earth, my energy is wasted, and so is my life.
BLEST BE THE TIE THAT BINDS
In 1773, the young pastor of a poor church in Wainsgate, England, was called to a large and influential church in London. John Fawcett was a powerful preacher and writer, and these skills had brought him this opportunity. But as the wagons were being loaded with the Fawcetts’ few belongings, their people came for a tearful farewell.
During the good-byes, Mary Fawcett cried, “John, I cannot bear to leave!”
“Nor can I,” he replied. “We shall remain here with our people.” The wagons were unloaded, and John Fawcett spent his entire fifty-four-year ministry in Wainsgate.
Out of that experience, Fawcett wrote the beautiful hymn, “Blest Be the Tie that Binds.”
WHAT WOULD YOU DO?
What would you do? You make the choice! Don't look for a punch line; there isn't one. Read it anyway.
My question to all of you is: Would you have made the same choice'
At a fundraising dinner for a school that serves learning disabled children, the father of one of the students delivered a speech that would never be forgotten by all who attended.
After extolling the school and its dedicated staff, he offered a question: "When not interfered with by outside influences, everything nature does is done with perfection. Yet my son, Shay, cannot learn things as other children do. He cannot understand things as other children do. Where is the natural order of things in my son?"
The audience was stilled by the query. The father continued. "I believe, that when a child like Shay comes into the world, an opportunity to realize true human nature presents itself, and it comes, in the way other people treat that child."
Then he told the following story: Shay and his father had walked past a park where some boys Shay knew were playing baseball. Shay asked, "Do you think they'll let me play?"
Shay's father knew that most of the boys would not want someone like Shay on their team, but the father also understood that if his son were allowed to play, it would give him a much-needed sense of belonging.
Shay's father approached one of the boys on the field and asked if Shay could play. The boy looked around for guidance and, getting none, he took matters into his own hands and said, "We're losing by six runs and the game is in the eighth inning. I guess he can be on our team and we'll try to put him in to bat in the ninth inning."
In the bottom of the eighth inning, Shay's team scored a few runs but was still behind by three. In the top of the ninth inning, Shay put on a glove and played in the outfield. Even though no hits came his way, he was obviously ecstatic just to be in the game and on the field, grinning from ear to ear as his father waved to him from the stands.
In the bottom of the ninth inning, Shay's team scored again. Now, with two outs and the bases loaded, the potential winning run was on base and Shay was scheduled to be next at bat.
At this juncture, do they let Shay bat and give away their chance to win the game'
Surprisingly, Shay was given the bat. Everyone knew that a hit was all but impossible 'cause Shay didn't even know how to hold the bat properly, much less connect with the ball.
However, as Shay stepped up to the plate, the pitcher moved in a few steps to lob the ball in softly so Shay could at least be able to make contact.
The first pitch came and Shay swung clumsily and missed. The pitcher again took a few steps forward to toss the ball softly towards Shay. As the pitch came in, Shay swung at the ball and hit a slow ground ball right back to the pitcher.
The pitcher picked up the soft grounder and could have easily thrown the ball to the first baseman. Shay would have been out and that would have been the end of the game.
Instead, the pitcher took the ball and turned and threw the ball on a high arc to right field, far beyond the reach of the first baseman.
Everyone started yelling, "Shay, run to first! Run to first!" Never in his life had Shay ever made it to first base. He scampered down the baseline, wide-eyed and startled. Everyone yelled, "Run to second, run to second!"
By the time Shay rounded first base, the right fielder had the ball. He could have thrown the ball to the second-baseman for the tag, but he understood the pitcher's intentions and intentionally threw the ball high and far over the third-baseman's head.
Shay ran toward second base as the runners ahead of him deliriously circled the bases toward home.
Shay reached second base, the opposing shortstop ran to him, turned him in the direction of third base, and shouted, "Run to third!" As Shay rounded third, the boys from both teams were screaming, "Shay, run home!"
Shay ran to home, stepped on the plate, and was cheered as the hero who hit the "grand slam" and won the game for his team.
"That day," said the father softly with tears now rolling down his face, "the boys from both teams helped bring a piece of true love and humanity into this world."