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May Series: "God’s Ways are Best: Personal Holiness for God, for the World, and for Ourselves“

by Nathan Parker, Senior Pastor

May 1 – “We are Fools for Christ’s Sake,” 1 Corinthians 4:1-21

May 8 – “A Little Leaven Leavens the Whole Lump,” 1 Corinthians 5:1-13

May 15 – “And Such Were Some of You, But You Were Washed,” 1 Corinthians 6:1-20

May 22 – “The Life that the Lord has Assigned,” 1 Corinthians 7:1-40

May 29 – “What is a Healthy Church?”

 

I have known people throughout my life whose accent tends to change depending on their current geographic location. For example, if someone is from Mississippi, their Southern accent usually becomes more pronounced whenever they find themselves back in their hometown. I know a guy from Michigan who has now lived in East Tennessee so long that his drawl is on par with pretty much the rest of Appalachia.

The point is that we tend to take on the attributes of the culture around us. We have an inclination to assimilate to the predominant people group that we find ourselves in. There is a certain level of pragmatism that causes us to justify doing things in ways that are not always aligned with God’s ways. Perhaps this is why churches are often shaped more by their zip code than by God’s Word ...

But as Christians who have died to ourselves and been raised to new life in Christ, we have been given a better way to live. We who were once “dead in the trespasses and sins in which [we] once walked, following the course of this world,” have now been saved by grace and raised up with Christ (Eph. 2:1-6). We are free from the bondage of sin that kept us comatose and free to live a life of “power and love and self-control” (2 Tim. 1:7).

I think the kinds of questions that we therefore must each ultimately answer for ourselves are things like, “Do I really believe that God’s ways are best? Do I believe that God’s ways lead to flourishing? Is my picture of ‘the good life’ God’s picture? Do I find Jesus to be more compelling, more lovely, than what this world has to offer? Or, would I rather choose my sin over Jesus?”

When Paul wrote this letter to the church in Corinth, he was prompted by a previous letter sent to him by the Corinthians asking for guidance on a variety of issues (marriage, idols, worship gatherings, etc.). But before he began to address these specific requests, Paul challenged his beloved brothers and sisters with the reality of the gospel – because it changes everything! We who have been raised up cannot now go back to our death bed! We must take seriously the call to live as a new creation, God’s new creation, in the midst of a fallen world. 

So Paul addresses issues like divisions and the true nature of the gospel in these early chapters. Now he moves on to his concerns of sinful behaviors that have been reported to him as continuing to plague the young church in Corinth. This month we will see Paul calling the church to remember its true identity in Christ, to remember the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that changes them into Christ’s likeness more and more each day. He reminds them of the radical, upside-down nature of the gospel, of how the world sees the gospel as foolishness. And yet, the gosepel remains the very power of God for salvation (1 Cor. 1:18).

 

My hope is that we would all be able to renew our commitment to God’s Word and to His ways, both as a church and as individuals. Not because we want to be “good” people, but because we actually believe that God’s ways lead to thriving – both individually and corporately as a church. And the flourishing that God’s ways supernaturally bring about is not (necessarily) the kind that enables us to live a comfortable life of leisure. It’s the kind of flourishing that allows us to see God’s good purposes advance in our own lives, in our church, and around the world. It’s the kind of flourishing that is for our good and, ultimately, for God’s glory. Let’s recommit ourselves to faithfully following the Lord and His ways and be a part of His grace-filled movement of redemption and renewal.

Grace and peace,

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