2010-01-10 (am) 1 Corinthians 11.17-34 Communion
Do you get the sense that the Apostle Paul is rather passionate about this? He is. The apostle Paul was a great man of God. He said, “To live is Christ, to die is gain” and he meant it. His greatest passion in life was Jesus. He organised his entire life around preaching the gospel to anyone who would listen.
Paul described himself as an apostle abnormally born. Before his conversion to Christ, he witnessed Stephen’s death, and worked extremely hard to stamp out those people calling themselves “the Way.” He was a zealous Jew, who sought to honour God with his life.
No one could have imagined that Paul would become one of the greatest missionaries for Christ, and author of several NT books! This simply proves that nothing is impossible for God. This should give us great encouragement! Not only for our own lives, when we see shortcomings in ourselves, but especially when we pray for our friends and family.
We can come before God and say, “Lord, you transformed Paul from persecutor to missionary. Please transform me from who I am now to who you have called me to be! Please transform my friends, please transform my family member. You’ve demonstrated your power in Paul, please demonstrate it in me and in those around me! Help me to be patient, help me to trust, Amen.
Perhaps it was Paul’s former way of attacking the church that created such a passion for preserving it. More likely, Paul had a real understanding of the mystery that happens when people give their lives to Christ.
There is a special communion, a connection that is deeply spiritual between the individual and God. When the Holy Spirit leads a person to place their trust in Christ’s promises to forgive sin, and redeem life through his death on the cross, the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, takes up residence in that person.
Every Christian then, has a connection with God that is inseparable. Nothing can change it. Nothing can steal it away. No amount of sin can destroy it. So great is God’s power in the Christian life.
When the Holy Spirit takes residence in a Christian’s life, then changes happen. Sometimes it is quick where in very short time, you can hardly recognise them. That’s what happened to Paul. He met Jesus. He understood that Jesus really is the Messiah. He knew that Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies. He realised he must give his life over to Jesus as the only way to truly honour God. And that’s what he did. He went from persecutor to preacher.
How radical was his life transformation? Well, once he had recovered his sight in Damascus, Paul preached boldly about Jesus. He upset the Jewish leaders so much that they planned to kill him. A few days later, he had to be lowered outside the city walls in order to escape!
Now, not all conversions are that radical! Some take lifetimes. Some happen only to individuals, but others happen to entire communities, like a town in Wales at the turn of the last century. A revival swept through the mining community and immediately the men stopped cursing and swearing! They were transformed. The transformation was so swift that the pit ponies, the horses they used in the mines no longer understood the commands because the miner’s language was no longer laced with profanities!
The apostle Paul, personally aware of Christ’s power in his own life, witness to Christ’s power in other people’s lives, encouraged and even chastised the Corinthian church for suppressing Christ’s power among them. They were not living up to the calling they received. They were like a gifted athlete