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One in Christ

February 16th 2014 by VicarCalvin Kapels

Jealousy and disagreements can often lead to divisions, even in the Church. As Christians, we must be aware and continue to work together to use our time, talents, and abilities in a God pleasing way; in a way that shows that we are one in Christ.

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Epiphany 6A-"One in Christ”-1 Corinthians 3:1-9-February 16, 2014 There is something about holding a baby that just makes you feel good. Those little bundles of joy melt your heart. Melissa and I love how everyone has been so excited to hold Della and we love hearing people say that she is so cute; probably because she looks like me (just kidding, she is pretty like her mom), but people get excited and they love and care for babies because babies are so sweet and innocent and cuddly and cute. Warning: don’t fall into that cuddly cute trap, babies have another side to them, a dark side; and I’m not just talking about their dirty diapers which I was going to bring one up here to give you a visual but I can’t stand the smell. I have nothing against babies, I love babies, but they are sinful and that sin manifests itself especially through selfishness. Think about it, they just lay around and cry until someone comes and takes care of them. They cry when they are hungry, they cry when they need a new diaper, they cry when they are tired, they cry when you aren’t holding them, they cry when you are holding them, but you’re not holding them the right way. They don’t care if you want to sleep, they don’t care if you have things to do, they don’t care how you feel. Everything is about them, they want it their way and they want it now.
We can smile and laugh about all the dirty diapers and late nights because they are babies; it’s what babies do. Parents deal with the late nights, the dirty diapers because we trust that as we love, teach, and care for our kids that they will grow into mature and responsible adults. If one of our kids is 25, still living at home and crying out to be fed, to be changed, still being selfish like a baby can be; that isn’t cute, that is a problem.

In our Epistle reading today, the Apostle Paul talks about babies/infants that are selfish. Paul isn’t talking about little babies doing what babies do; he is talking about men and women who are Christians but they are acting like babies.
“But I brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ.” Paul planted the church in Corinth and fed them with the message of Christ crucified. Jesus Christ died for our sins, rose from the dead, and has freed us from sin to love and serve Him as Lord and Savior; we are one in Christ. The Corinthians took that message which is meant to bring the church together to help it grow in faith and love, and used it as a personal license to do whatever they pleased; which divided the church.
If we went through all of first Corinthians we would see many instances of division in the Church; there are sexual sins, there are people getting drunk during the Lord’s Supper, there are people eating meat that was sacrificed to idols in order to make others around them happy, there are some that are even questioning the resurrection of Jesus and of their own bodies. By doing what each one pleases, they are creating divisions in the church. Paul gives the reason for their division; “For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?
Jealousy is a selfish sin. It is about what someone else has and you want it. Jealousy is about getting what you want. When people don’t get what they want, that can lead to strife which is angry or bitter disagreement over fundamental issues. Satan uses jealousy and strife to create division; to try and take us out of the oneness that we have in Christ and make it a oneness that is self-centered, focused on personal desires.
In 1 Corinthians we read that self-centeredness led to some disagreements, which eventually led to divisions. “For when one says, ‘I follow Paul,’ and another, ‘I follow Apollos,’ are you not being merely human?” The Christian Church in Corinth has forgotten the unifying message that we are one in Christ. The Church has been divided to meet each person’s own desire.
So, why preach about division in the church for us here, for us today? There aren’t people divided saying “I follow Pastor Schultz, or I follow Pastor Ada and especially no one saying I follow Vicar”. For us, this letter is used as a warning; a warning not to let jealousy and disagreements lead to division. It is a warning for the Church in Corinth, a warning for every Church that proclaims Jesus Christ Lord and Savior. It is a warning for the Church I grew up in, a warning for this Church, a warning for a future Church that I one day will serve. A warning for us to remain as one is Christ.
That is why it is such a joy to be here at Beautiful Savior, to be part of a healthy, growing Church where there are no divisions. There might be disagreements and that’s okay as long as there aren’t divisions. For six months now I have sat in on board meetings and voter meetings and it’s been great to see how everyone is working toward the same goal, to give glory to God, to connect, grow, and go and share the Good News of Jesus with others. To work together as one in Christ. Sure, there have been disagreements but sometimes those are necessary to make sure that we are using our time, talents, treasures in a God pleasing way, a way that is unified to the sharing, caring, and building of God’s Kingdom.
So how do we avoid a disagreement turning into a division? It goes back to the Bible study last week on Philippians 2 “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, have the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”
Fellowship together works in a very similar way to a healthy marriage; which is being of the same mind, same love, being one in Christ. In my marriage, Melissa and I don’t agree all the time, she’s not always going to say, “Calvin that is such a great idea, you’re a genius!” Three years ago around this time, I came home from work to talk to Melissa about this feeling I had. I remember thinking that if this went horribly wrong; at least I would have Valentine’s day to make up for it. So I walked over to her and said, “Babe, I really feel God working in my heart that now is the time for us to go to the Seminary. So that means that I would have to quit my job, you would have to quit your job, I would have to give back the company car, we would have to move out of our house, we would have to move away from our friends and family, and I am not sure what kind of work we can find when we get there, or not sure where we would live but I think there is housing on campus, and we won’t know anyone there. Oh, and by the way, the deadline for the application is the end of March so we have like one month to get that in. She wasn’t exactly like “Calvin that is a great idea!” It wasn’t that she was completely disagreeing with me, we’ve talked about going to the Seminary before; but now it became a real possibility of us going. It was something new and challenging to wrap our hearts and minds around such change. I could have been selfish and said, “God that sounds good, but I’m pretty happy with my life right now, I think I will just keep doing what I’m doing and I’ll see you on Sunday.” Melissa could have been selfish and decided that there was no way she was going. You can ask her, she never thought she would be a Pastor’s wife.
Instead of becoming divided; from God and from each other, we came to trust and rely on God more and on each other more as we talked it out. We prayed about the decision, we went and got advice from pastors and their wives about the Seminary, they prayed with us. We talked with our family and friends, and they were praying for us. We even went to the Seminary to visit. And at the end of the month, when the application needed to be turned in, it was ultimate faith and trust that God will provide and grow us into what He desires. It’s not about what we want it is about God using us as He will.
Being in Church fellowship is like a marriage; we get to participate and work together. Sometimes that means talking it out, sometimes that means getting advice and counsel from others, sometimes that means asking for forgiveness or forgiving, sometimes it means not getting our way.
It always means that we love and care for others and put others before ourselves. It always means that we are praying for each other and praying that God uses us according to His will. It is not about us. That is what Paul is saying in the Epistle for today “What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed as the Lord assigned to each.” “neither he who plants or he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one. For we are God’s fellow workers.”
The harsh humbling truth is that it is not about us; this life that we have been given is not about you or me, it’s not about our job, or how big our house is, or how many friends we have, or how much money we have. It is about becoming nothing, it is about serving others, it is about being fellow workers in the Kingdom of God. Our life is centered on Christ; we are one in Christ. We are one in Christ because He came to serve and not to be served. He came to be born, to be a cute cuddly baby that people traveled to see because He is the One that brings ultimate, eternal joy to our hearts. Our joy is that Jesus would not let sin divide and separate us from Him; He was selfless, He gave His life, for the lives of all, for the sins of all. One died so that all might live. It is through Jesus’ death and resurrection that we are freed to serve and love Him. Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, and Second Coming is everything. We are one in Christ through His death, we are one in Christ through His resurrection and the new life that we have in Him.
We become one in Christ in our baptism, we become one in Christ as we hear His Word proclaimed, we are one in Christ as we come together and eat His body and drink His blood, we are one in Christ as we confess our faith together. We are one in Christ as we confess our sins together and as we together hear the forgiveness and new life that is ours through Christ.
We are one in Christ when we humble ourselves and talk through/work through a disagreement to make sure that it isn’t about us and our own desires. We are one in Christ when we humbly and joyfully serve others. We are one in Christ as we pray for others, as we love and care for others. We are one in Christ as we teach kids about Jesus, when we lead our family in devotions, and when we come to Church to share in worship and fellowship as we praise our Savior. We are one in Christ as we share the Good News of forgiveness and new life in Christ with others. We are one in Christ when we daily live our life in joy and love, knowing that it is not about us, it is about the love and joy of living a new life of service; of being fellow workers who share the Good News with others that we are one in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

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