If you have a Bible, you can turn to first Corinthians, chapter eleven, and we’ll get there in just a moment. If you don’t have a Bible, don’t worry. All the scriptures will be up on the screen. Last week, we actually began a discussion on community and culture. It’s a Broward Church series because that’s what this says.
It’s a series that we began because we just wanted to begin a conversation about the way in which our culture impacts the way we relate to people, but also the way we relate to God. And we said that it impacts the way we relate to God. If you haven’t had a chance. That’s what we talked about last week. If you had a chance to listen to that, I encourage you to jump online and watch it later, because we’re really continuing in that vein for the rest of the series.
Instead, though, today of talking about how we relate to God, how our culture helps us or hurts us in our relation to God, we really wanted to take some time to think through how we relate to people based on our culture and more specifically, how our culture impacts the way we relate to the community of the Church. And so first, let’s do a quick recap. You might remember that we said consumerism is a worldview that says the goal of our lives is to fulfill our desires, but the goal of our life this is really America in the 21st century. This is really the Western world.
The goal of life is to have all of our needs met, all of our desires met, and really we’ll do almost anything to make sure that happens. We talked about the parable of the prodigal son who saw his father stuff more than he saw his father. He said, I want your stuff, I want to go away. He was kind of the consumer mindset. We talked about the older son who really wanted his father’s stuff.
Hey, let me work for you and let me get something from you. And that was really their whole mind. And we said that the goal of the consumer Christian is not the goal of the gospel, but the goal of the gospel is to be close to God. But the goal of the consumer Christian is to get things or to accumulate things from God. It makes the goal the fruit of being with God as opposed to God himself.
And certainly all of this is kind of nuanced. But it’s actually an important distinction because we also talked about the idea that we really see things through our own lens and that seeing through our own lens makes us really clouded in the way we look at God and people and the people around us. We really look through the lens of culture. And we read this passage in Judges, but I want to read you a couple of more that kind of teach us the same point. Judge, chapter 21 verse 25, Everyone did what was right in their own eyes.
And so as we talked about last week, there was a disaster in the community. 450 years of just total evil, and everything that could go wrong went wrong because everyone did what was right in his own eyes. And so we shouldn’t be surprised that. Proverbs chapter 14 says something like this, There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death. All of us, men or woman.
There’s ways that seem right to us. Actually, all of our ways seem right to us. But in the end, some of those ways will lead to our demise, our destruction. Isaiah five, Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and shrewd in their own sight. Hey, if you always think you’re right, woe to you, warning to you. Now, hopefully no one is elbowing their spouse.
But but that’s the idea here. If you think you’re always right, there’s a real problem. Proverbs 21 Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart. Some more for you. Proverbs Chapter twelve, Verse 15, the way of a fool is right in his own eyes. But a wise man listens to advice, so the fool thinks he’s right, doesn’t get any correction.
The fool thinks that he’s right all the time and doesn’t listen to anybody else on the other side of the discussion. But a wise person listens to advice. This is the one that you should never text your friend. Proverbs chapter 26, do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There’s more hope for a fool then for him, just like happy birthday.
Proverbs chaper three, verse seven, do not be wise in your own eyes. Fear the Lord and turn away from evil. We see it over and over and over again. That the warning. The warning is, hey, don’t do the things that you think are right all the time.
And what’s interesting about this is that really this speaks to one of the main virtues of the consumer culture. See what’s in the consumer culture, one of the highest virtues on the top of Mount virtue is the virtue of choice. You get to do whatever you want to do whenever you want to do it. Part of it is all about my choices to fulfill my own desires. That’s how we ended last week.
But I like to continue our discussion. I like to kind of wrap our mind around this a little bit more by talking a little bit about a shopping mall. This is the Sawgrass Mills Mall. Apparently it looks like an alligator. I do not see it at all.
Do you guys see it? Where’s the head? I have no idea. There’s no clear physical expression of the consumer world view than the shopping mall, though the shopping mall is dying to me is the physical embodiment of the consumer culture, because in a shopping mall, everyone, everyone gets a choice. In a shopping mall, you can buy a shirt for $5.
You could also go to Gucci and buy a shirt for $500. I’ve never been to a Gucci store. So I assume they’re $500. Who knows?
There’s an armed guard outside or whatever. In a shopping mall, you can have everything you’ve ever wanted. Cassandra and I went to the sawgrass for the first time since the start of the pandemic a couple of months ago. We were assuming that when we got to the Sawgrass, it would be totally empty. You know, it’s a pandemic. I’m like, this would be a cool place.
Meaning like, literally a cool, like, cold place because it’s 100 degrees outside for kids to run around. So we packed up our car, we went on our way. And this was not the case. When we showed up, the parking lot was packed. When we got inside, it was as full as I’ve ever seen the place.
We looked at each other and we kind of strapped their mass tight or whatever. And then we let the kids run and they were off. And this is like a Disneyland for choice, the mall. Weaving in and out of stores. I see people big shopping bags.
Every place you’d ever like to go. You can get cheap stuff, expensive stuff. You can get hipster stuff. You can get hip hop stuff. You can get dresses and shoes and bathing suits and food.
And there’s so much stuff. And so eventually, Cassandra and I thought, you know, it would be so cool if we brought the kids to the food court. You know, food court. And I told the kids, hey, when you get in, the coolest thing about the food court is you can eat anything you want. There’s so many choices.
It’s open for everybody. You can get that pizza from Sbarros if you want, you can get the chicken teriyaki, which happens to be in every single shopping mall ever. You can get Panda Express. You can get that random sushi store. By the way, who would eat sushi from a mall?
Oh, sorry. You can go to Charlie’s Cheese Steaks. You ever have those subs? They’re so good. Everything you want exactly where you want it.
At the shopping mall, everyone gets a choice. And so we’re in the food court, and we’re thinking, this is going to be a family, fun time. It’s going to be amazing. What a great experience we’re going to have. We could pick whatever you’d like. And so I ask Cassandra what she wants to eat.
And my wife, who is perfect in every single way except for this way, she is notorious for being indecisive when it comes to food. If you got a wife like that, say, Amen. Just kidding. Do not. Please.
Of course, she’s just a little unsure about what she wants to eat, because that’s it. But I’m very decisive. So I come up with a plan. Hey, Babe, I’m gonna go in. You’re going to sit with the kids first because the shopping malls packed.
I’m going to go grab my food. I’m going to bring it over the table after I come back to the table. Then you can go look for what you want and pick up the kids food. Bring the kids food back. Then you can go buy your food.
That way, you can have as much time as you’d like to figure out what you’d like to eat. So she’s like, okay, good plan. So I get up, I go to the chicken teriyaki place. I grab it, and I’m looking back. And as I’m looking back, I can see the kids already losing their minds.
I don’t know what happened, but they look up and I think it’s just, like, too much stimulation or something like that. Too many options, too much stuff. And so, uh, I grab my food, I bring it all the way back. I’m like, alright, Babe, go. And at this point, the kids are like, they’re like, they’re gonna lose it.
So, like, Ezra, my youngest, is grabbing things off the floor and trying to put it in his mouth. And cadence is like, What’s this under the chair? And I’m like, Leave it alone. No, I I’m, like, freaking out already. And I’m hopefully trying to eat, but it’s getting bad.
I look over. My wife has chosen pizza. Great choice for the kids. Come on, girl. So she comes back, she comes back and gives me the pizza.
And then she goes back to kind of make her round to see what she wants. But at this point, my kids have looked at the other options. Pizza isn’t the only option at a shopping mall. One of the kids is like, Mac and cheese. And then I think my daughter caught the glimpse of the ice cream shop.
Haagen Daz ice cream is what I want for dinner. You told me we could have any choice we wanted. And they’re freaking out. My son takes his pizza and throws it on the floor. And at this point, I grabbed my son and my daughter’s arm. And I try to be a loving parent.
But I grabbed their, and I’m like, you eat your food, you know, grr like that. And my daughter and my son, they’re just screaming. And here I am at the mall thinking, this is gonna be a great family affair. And it’s a horrible experience.
My wife eventually gets back. And I’m like, Baby, did you get any food? I’m still not sure what I want. At that point, I’m making the executive decision. We are going home.
We are going home. Now, I want to contrast that to what we typically do. Every night at 06:00, almost every single night, my family has dinner. There are no options. You eat what’s in front of you. We sit, we talk, we pray we laugh.
We have community. And here’s what I learned, and I know you feel the same thing. I love the idea of choice, but oftentimes choice is in conflict with real community. Choice is in conflict with real community. You want to have a family dinner? Don’t go to the mall.
Let me just unpack this for a bit, because part of the highest value of the consumer culture is the option for choice. That impacts what we think about God often because, man, if God’s not good enough, then I go somewhere else. It also impacts what we think about Church, right? If this Church is preaching, this sound, these people aren’t good enough, I’ll just go somewhere else. The core characteristic of a consumer of a consumer culture is the freedom of choice and customization.
Creating a product that conforms to every one of my particular desires has driven business to create every different permutation that they possibly can. You can walk into Starbucks right now and get 170,000 different versions of your favorite beverage. On Spotify, on YouTube, on Facebook, we curate the algorithms do it for us, every bit of content we’re going to listen to. Down to every word we see has been curated just for us, so that if anything we don’t like, we just block it, push it away so we don’t have to hear a counter opinion.
When I was a kid, when you watch television, you just watch television. There’s no choices.
You had, like, whatever amount of channels, and you just chose what was there. Now you spend 45 minutes deciding what to watch on Netflix. But there is more to choice than just convenience. See in a consumer society, there is a belief that the world should accommodate to our desires, and we shouldn’t settle for anything less than the fulfillment of exactly what we want. And as we talked about last week, the value of the culture ends up leaking into the Church.
And so the demand for more choices is no exception to that rule. Let me give you a quick example, and then we’ll get on to first Corinthians Chapter eleven. There’s a large Church in California who has pioneered this kind of shopping mall approach for Church. When you enter in on Sunday morning, sort of like through our doors, any person who comes in can choose the type of Church they want. Grandma can go to sing hymns and listen to a guy who’s preaching from a giant pulpit lectern thing with a tie on and a jacket over.
And they can experience the service. Who’s older? If someone the older can experience the exact service they like. And then when you walk in, if you’re kind of a mom or dad, you can enjoy coffee and bagels at the worship cafe. And then if you’re a teenager, you can lose your hearing in the rock venue.
Worshippers no longer have to tolerate people music, prayers, anything that they do not like. And is all this bad? No. But in that setting and often in the setting that we’re living in right now, the value of family and Congregational unity is drowned out by the cultural mantra of individual choice. Customization has replaced community as a core value of worship. How do I want to experience Jesus?
And I can experience, however, however I want. And if I don’t get it the exact way I want it, then I can just go somewhere else. And if you’re visiting here for the first time and you’re kind of Church shopping, I love you. You’re awesome. You’re welcome here.
If you’re watching online, even watching 50 other sermons, you’re welcome here. I love you. But what I hope that you capture is that really the cultural plans aren’t necessarily God’s plans. See if choice is what’s highly valued. If choice is the thing we care about the most, eventually, the only people in our community will be people who think, act and do and choose just like us.
Think about it. Choice will eventually lead to homogeneity. Homogeneity is the state in which everything is the same. We should hardly be surprised when the Church adopts this cultural value that this is the outcome. A Church, a people, a community where everyone looks sounds act exactly the same, because most people will pick and choose a community that conforms to their own style in their perspective and their life stage and their ethnicity and their culture.
Most people want a Church that fits their choice of preacher or choice of songs or choice of small group. They want to be people who vote like them, look like them, sound like them, act like them, respond like them. As the quotation says, the most diverse moment in America is 1030 on Sunday mornings. Essentially, people will choose the Church that is comfortable and comfort is achieved when the pews and the pulpit are occupied by people who look just like them. See in this world view, in the thing that’s kind of crashing into the Church, choice trumps community.
Comfort trumps commitment. Now, with that world view in mind, we find the get to first Corinthians chapter eleven. If you could think about New York, Hollywood and Las Vegas, like merging into one single city that’s how one historian describes the ancient Greek city of Corinth. It’s like New York, a center of commerce.
Hollywood a center of culture and Las Vegas, the center of, I don’t know, let’s say, a sin. I don’t know. Moral ambiguity. It was located along trade routes, so it attracted a diverse group of people from all over the Roman world. But it was very segregated, especially by upper and lower class.
The upper class enjoyed luxuries and rich urban cities in a rich urban city, and the lower class enjoyed the slums or the ghettos and dealt with slavery and poverty. And it was in that setting that Paul came in to plant a Church, the Church of Corinth and right from the start, the Church had some significant problems. And the main issue, and we’re going to see this in a second. The main issue is that the Church in Corinth uncritically, which means they didn’t think about it. They uncritically allowed the values of their culture into the Church.
And so the infamous sexual immorality of the Church of the community of Corninth entered the Church of Corinth. The infamous Greek philosophers entered the Church in Corinth in terms of their ideology, the radical or the ratial, I’m sorry, and economic division of the city entered the Church. And so Paul’s listening to all this, and he decides that he’s going to respond to it. And the way you respond is he is so angry.
First Corinthians is full of rebukes. It’s like rebuke after rebuke, after rebuke after rebuke. But the most powerful rebuke, in my opinion, the most condemning words are not directed at heresy. They’re not directed at sexual immorality. They aren’t directed at any particular sexual sin or things that you would say.
Whoa, whoa, that’s a little bit too much. The things that Paul addresses are the way that the community deals with each other. Listen to first Corinthians chapter eleven verse 17. In the following directive, I have no praise for you. Imagine, I’m up on stage, hello, Church what I’m about to talk about. I have nothing good to say to you. That’s pretty intense. The scriptures will later say, and we’re not going to read this part. But we’ll later say that some people are dying.
Being killed by God and falling asleep, meaning falling asleep and dying. Sorry falling asleep and getting sick. Dying and getting sick because of this community. It’s really intense. Look at the next line: for your meetings do more harm than good.
Could you imagine that? Hey it would be better guys if we just didn’t meet because as we meet, it does worse for your soul than if we just didn’t meet? Wow. It’d be better if you guys just didn’t even get together. He’s talking about these meetings, and he says these meetings are horrific. So you might wonder, well, what’s going on in the meeting.
Well, let me just give you a little bit of history. On the night before Jesus is death, Jesus gathers the disciples together to have the Passover meal. The Passover was a moment where we talked about it a couple of months ago, where we celebrate the exodus of Israel out of Egypt. And there was a moment where they celebrate redemption and they celebrate Salvation. But Jesus, in that meal, decides to take the cup of the Passover and the bread of the Passover and transform them into something brand new.
This is Luke, chapter 22. And he took the bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, this is my body given for you. Do this in remembrance of me. In the same way, after the supper, he took the cup, saying, this cup is the new Covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. So he takes the bread of the Passover, and he takes the cup of the Passover and he says, hey, these now have a new meaning, because when you think about the history of redemption in the Bible, your first thought before this was supposed to go right to Egypt. Redeemed because we were set free from Egypt. But Jesus is saying now, when you think about Salvation, your brain shouldn’t go to Egypt anymore. It should go to Calvary. That’s the point that you shouldn’t be thinking about the blood over the door post. You should be thinking about the blood spilled on the cross.
Jesus was transforming Passover into what we now call Communion. And so that’s the meeting. It’s a meeting of Communion. So they’re celebrating this Communion. And really, the Communion was one of the most important moments of the entire Christian community.
They got together and they ate this communal meal. And this is the meeting that Paul is addressing. And remember, what are they saying about these meetings? Well your meetings are doing more harm than good? Hey, when you have Communion, it’d be better if you just didn’t have it. It’s the worst thing you could do in this Church is come to Church.
Just think about how intense that is. Well, why? Read the next section. In the first place I hear that when you come together as a Church there is division among you. Okay, so we got our first hint here.
Communion is supposed to be a time where you remember the fact that God brought everybody back together. He’s going, no, no, there’s division in your Church. And what we’ll see in a second is this, that instead of the expression of God’s redemption, this meeting became an expression of the cultural division. See like Christians today Corinth assembled on Sunday morning to have a meal. But unlike today in Rome, Sunday wasn’t a day off.
So on Sunday, when they met together, the people who are really rich, who didn’t have intense work obligations, could come at whatever time. They could participate in service, they could bring a pot luck meal. They would bring all their food, they could come there, and they would eat all the food. They would bring all the food, they would eat all the food. And all the rich people would just hang out together.
But in Corinth, all the older people, all the poor people would have to work all day. So they would come in the evening time. And so there was a Church for the rich in the morning and a Church for the poor at night. And when the poor got to Church, there would be no food left for them. This is why Paul is so angry.
He says, for when you are eating and I just want to say this for a second. You’d imagine, right? It’d be about something else. Like you would imagine that Paul’s anger would be like someone is doing something terrible in the community, and there’s you know sin that we can’t even talk about.
But his anger is about the way they eat. Their table manners, essentially. For when you are eating, some of you go ahead with your own private suppers. As a result, one person remains hungry and another gets drunk. Verse 22, don’t you have homes to eat in and drink in? Or do you despise the Church of God by humiliating those who have nothing?
What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? Certainly not in this matter. The rich eat, the poor have nothing. And certainly this is just the way of the culture that has made its way into the Church.
This is the way of the culture, but it was not the way of God. This was supposed to be a communal time where everyone shared. And they realized not that they were different, but that they were United in Jesus. And instead there was division in the Church. They humiliated the Church. It had not occurred to the Church in Corinth that their behavior was inappropriate.
And the reason it didn’t occur to them that it was inappropriate is because this is just what the culture did. In Corinth the rich didn’t eat with the poor and the poor didn’t eat with the rich. They were separate. And so, of course, they were separate in the Church. And all of a sudden an event intended to display the unity of God and his people was beginning to be used as a reflection of the division of the culture that they were in. It was the comfortable, normal thing to do.
And to Paul, it was outrageous that they did it. The Church community, essentially, we learn from Paul, the Church community cannot be shaped by the values of their day. That’s the point. And see, it’s easy to drag our culture into the Church. Let me tell you what our culture is all about.
Division. Everything in this country is a divided issue. People are fighting over whether or not Simone Biles a 24 year old girl should have played or worked in the Olympics. Who cares? Everybody here has to have an opinion about everything.
I’m not saying here. Everybody in this country has to have an opinion about everything. Everybody has to have an opinion, and their opinion has to be distinctly different from everybody else’s opinion. Everything is an issue that we fight about. Every issue is political.
Every issue is a point of contention. We are just like the Church in Corinth. We are so divided. And certainly we’re not divided necessarily in our meals. But we are divided in the way we think about life.
We are utterly divided. And here’s the idea, like, if that division is in the world, it will eventually seep into the Church over time. And people will look at each other and go, Well, you’re doing this and you’re doing that. And how come you have this and how come you don’t have that? And how come you’re like this?
And how come you respond like this? And what do you think about that? And all of a sudden, there’ll be fractures in the foundation of the temple that God is built within his Church. It just creeps in, just like Corinth. And so, rather than challenging our culture, what ends up happening is we just capitulate to it.
We just give in. Instead of defending the plan of Jesus, we just go, hey, whatever our society does is good enough. And the consumer Church has enthusiastically in some places, defended the status quo. That was never the point, however, of community. And I know that some of us look around and think, wow, this Church is really diverse.
I mean, look around. You can see black and white, and you can actually do it in. There you go. I can see you. It’s awesome.
This is great. Like, like, we have diverse views and lots of different things. We’re diverse congregation. But I want to challenge you with one step deeper. It’s easy to be diverse on a Sunday morning because you just come and sit in your row and just listen and then go home.
It’s way harder to be diverse monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday. You got what I’m saying. So here’s a question. Instead of thinking about how diverse our Church is, why don’t you answer this question for yourself?
How diverse is your dinner table? How diverse are the people that come into your home? Are the people that you have community and relationships with? How diverse, I mean, like, age diversity, cultural diversity, educational diversity, political diversity. How diverse is are the people in your life? Are they the same life stage or the same race or the same culture as you? Is there any diversity at your dinner table? See the reason most of us fall into homogeneity is that because it’s what happens is that our concerns to be comfortable become more important than our concerns to have real community.
Our thoughts about choice are more valued than our thoughts about the community of God’s Kingdom. And look, I fall into the same idea. A couple of years ago, we started community groups. We started small groups. And one of the big points of small groups was basically to get people back into each other’s lives.
And I was thinking of myself, how am I gonna do this? How are we really gonna get the Church back into each other’s lives. And I thought the best way to get the Church back into each others’ lives is to make the churches, the groups as comfortable as humanly possible. So you could choose any group you want from any location.
You want a group that’s only millennials, that everyone has a beard. You got it. You want a group that’s only women that meet in Lauderhill on Tuesday afternoons. You got it. There you go.
You have your group, you want your group. And the thought was, let’s help. Let’s use the consumer culture to help people get involved in people in people’s lives. What I realized and this is really, to my shame, is that what I was doing was not perpetuating God’s Kingdom. I was perpetuating a consumer cultural worldview.
Look, I joked with Mark Young because Mark Young and I were thinking about starting a group that was just soccer. You just play soccer and that’s your group? Like, yeah, like, real, real unity. And I’m not saying you can’t play soccer and have a Christian group, but the point of the community of the Church is to be a diverse community. That’s part of the point.
And I wonder what Paul would have said to me. If he would have said, you know, Tony, what you teach does more harm than good. You see, community has little to do with mutual compatibility, has little to do with similar educational background and similar cultural background and similar psychological makeup or sociological status, or has little to do with any of that stuff. Community is supposed to be grounded in God. That’s the goal, right? And the thought is that when Christ died, he accomplished not only the reconciling of men to himself, but he reconciled people to people.
Ephesians chapter two, verse 15. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace and in his body to reconcile both of them. But all these groups, to bring them together to God through the cross by which he put to death their hostility. He came to preach peace to you who are far away, and peace to those who are near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one spirit.
Paul’s unwavering belief in unity through the cross explains why he became so irate with the Corinthian Church by valuing their culture more than unity what they ended up doing is contradicting the purpose of the cross. They contradicted the purpose of the Church. And so if we aren’t supposed to relate to each other on the basis of how the world views it, or our society teaches us, how are we supposed to relate to each other on?
Like, what’s the basis that we’re supposed to relate to each other on. And so I just want to take a couple of minutes to kind of hit something. It’s gonna be kind of fast. I’ll be a lot of scriptures, but just bear with me. Jesus commands us and teaches us and informs us that community is sacred, that it’s Holy, that it’s supposed to be set apart.
So we are supposed to view each other on the basis of God’s Holiness. And that seems a little bit obscure to you. Let me try to connect the dots for you.
God considers the community sacred. Keep that in mind. First Corinthians, chapter three, verse 16 to 17, teaches us that. Remember last week we talked about this idea of sacredness or Holiness having an inherent value. It is valuable because it is valuable. That’s it.
There’s nothing. You don’t have to trade anything for it. It just is valuable. One of the most powerful scenes in all the Bible in Second Chronicles chapter seven. There’s this really beautiful picture where God shows His presence to the community of Israel for the very first time in this pretty profound way. Solomon has just been building the temple that David designed. And this is what happens. This is second Chronicles Chapter seven, verse one.
It said when Solomon finished praying, this is after the consecration of the temple, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple. The priest could not enter the temple of the Lord because the glory of the Lord filled it. When all of the Israelites saw the fire coming down in the glory of the Lord above the temple, they knelt on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshipped and gave thanks to the Lord, saying, he is good. His love endures forever.
Think about it for a second. Just imagine what this is like. Here we are, the roof rips open and all of a sudden fire just comes down. First off, most of us are dead. But if you could get out, could you just imagine what that would be like?
Like just in your mind’s eye, view the roof ripping off and fire coming down.
We would lay to the floor apostrate like, would you sing? Would you say, would you lift your hand? I don’t even know what you would do. It would be awe inspiring. It would be crazy, right?
Now, the temple is the place where heaven intersected with the Earth. This beautiful building that Solomon built was supposed to be a symbol of something to come in the future. And what was coming in the future? Well, there was going to be a temple of God that was very different than the physical building.
Look at this. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you. Look at this passage Ephesians chapter two. Consequently, you’re no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the Apostles and the prophets with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.
Verse 21, in him, the whole building is joined together and raises to become a Holy temple in the Lord. What is he saying? We are the temple of God in which His presence resides. So how should I look at people? Should I look at people like, wow, what can you give me?
Because if you can’t give me anything, I’m out. Well, you’re not like me. You don’t sound like me. I didn’t vote like me. So it doesn’t matter if you’re in my life?
Or should we look at people as other members of a Holy temple that God creates and His spirit dwells in? To me, those are radically opposed viewpoints. You get what I’m saying? Like, how do you look at somebody else who’s a member of God’s household and go, you know what? You have some sort of disability so you’re not really all that important. You’re older. So, you know, I need really need to be with my people who can really help me. Are you out of your mind? Now you could start understanding why Paul is thinking why Paul responds the way Paul responds in first Corinthians, we form the temple of God.
There is something sacred in this moment. There is something sacred when the diverse community comes together to worship God. It’s not based on how awesome we are or how, I like this and I like that. It’s not based on any of that.
It’s based on the presence of God’s spirit. You are a stone in the structure in which God lives. God makes his home among us, which means that we you are sacred being. We have to treat each other that way. We have to treat each other that way.
Otherwise, here’s a warning and just listen to this. This thing is crazy. First Corinthians, Chapter three verse 16, don’t you know that you yourself are God’s temple? If he wasn’t clear already? By the way, this is first Corinthians which kind of sets up what he’s trying to do throughout the book.
If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person, for God’s temple is sacred, and you and you together are that temple. If you try to destroy what God is doing, God will destroy you. That’s intense. God’s glory filled that temple. Imagine if someone came and brought a sledge hammer destroying the temple. I would fight them you know? How can you do that?
But the thing is, when we look at each other through all of the labels and divisions that the world gives, we’re doing the very same thing, guys. We’re setting ourselves up to have a viewpoint of someone else instead of as an image bearer of Jesus as some type of category that the media gave us to give them. We lose our way. And what we do is we destroy what God is hoping to build. Why would I relate to you through the viewpoint of this culture?
I should be relating to you through the viewpoint of God’s Holiness, something that transcends this culture. I love what galatians chapter three says so in Christ Jesus, you are all children of God through faith. This is how we should look at people. You are a child.
An image bearer part of the temple. It doesn’t matter if you’re black or white or Asian or Hispanic, if you’re rich or your poor, if you have disabilities, if your past is riddled with sin, you are a member of God’s community. Christ has clothed I’m sorry we were baptized. Okay. Verse 28, there is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male or female.
For you are all one in Christ Jesus. Do you see why this matters so much in a society that tells us we can have as much choice as we want with the people that around us? Eventually, we we replace God’s image of community with our own image of community. And in the process, if we bring that into the Church, we destroy what God was ultimately trying to build when he died on the cross. That’s why this is important.
Brothers and Sisters, I want to encourage you to look at the people around you and look at them through the lens that they are Holy in God’s image. They were made in His image, which means you should honor them and treat them with respect and dignity. That you should have a diverse dinner table. That means people different than you should be coming over your house and spending time with you. And certainly there’s the pandemic and all that stuff and there’s stuff to deal with.
But, man, if you’re having people at your house, if it’s the same people, it’s the same type of people. You should really look closely at your own heart and expose any viewpoints that you have that are stopping God from building what he ought to be building in this Church and in your own life. Christ died for this. We should honor this. At this time, we’re going to pray for Communion.
Father, we love you. We thank you that you have given us this incredible community. We know that we don’t deserve it. God, that that really this is a blessing. It’s a blessing to be able to show the world that we could be old and young and be unified.
That we can be black and white and be unified. That we can be Hispanic and Asian, that we can be rich and poor and be unified. That it doesn’t matter if you have a College degree here, that you are valuable here, that it doesn’t matter if you have a doctorate, that you’re also valuable. Lord, you are valuable because the people are valuable because they’re made in your image. God and I just want to take a moment to pray for the people in this Church.
I pray for the children in our children’s Ministry. Lord, as the society seems to not care so much about them. Lord, in this Church, we want to show them a high value, lord. Jesus showed them a high value. We should do the same.
Lord, Maybe they have nothing to offer us. Quote, unquote. But, Lord, they are made in your image and they’re valuable and meaningful. And god, I pray that we value them highly.
Lord, I pray for the people who are in kind of the early parts of their adulthood, our middle school students or teenagers or campus students. I pray that we can look at them with respect, that we can see them as not just younger members of the body, but we can see them as people that have something to give to this Church. We can value them, Lord, not just for what they offer, but for who they are. God I pray for those who are kind of in their quote, unquote prime in their lives.
Lord, that they will see that they will find value here, but they will see their need to kind of step up and to work and be engaged in this Church. God and I pray for the people who are older who sometimes feel like maybe the Church has passed them by.
I pray that they never feel that. God I pray that people who have been here for years and years and years will see that man they are just as valuable for this Church is when they first got in here, and maybe even more so because of what they provide and what they allow us to understand about you and your Kingdom. God I pray that our Church isn’t separated by age. God I pray for those who are poor in our congregation. I pray that there Richer members can look over them and encourage them and support them.
I pray for those who are rich or that we will encourage them to be generous, to try to use their earthly wealth to impact the lives of others. God I pray for those who are African American or from African descent and all the diversity that that brings, whether it’s Spanish, African American or African American from the Islands or I’m sorry, African from the Islands are African American. God, I pray that, Lord, they will find value here, that there will be no sense of division amongst them, that they feel like man, that the Church is their family.
God I pray for the Hispanic people in this Church and especially for those who are maybe immigrants are learning the language. I pray that because they don’t speak the language, that they’ll never be division, that people will never look down on them.
God, but they’ll be seen as a valuable members of our society because of who they are. God I pray for the people who are immigrants here and the people who are foreigners here. God I pray that they’ll find value and I pray that the citizens will feel the same. God I pray for our white brothers and sisters and as it seems like the media is trying to figure out how to frame all this race stuff. God, I just pray that when we come into the context to this community, that there’ll be a sense that everyone is important no matter who you are.
God I pray that they’ll feel encouraged and inspired and important. God I do pray that this Church will be a beacon of hope, that the world does not have a I pray that we will be people that are unlike anything that the world has to offer. That we will capture the imagination of Jesus. That we would be one as the Father is one.
Father I thank you for Jesus. I thank you that at his death, he decided to think about us, to redeem us not only to you, but also to redeem us to each other. God I thank you for the bread that we’ll eat in a moment that represents his body broken for us and the juice that represent his blood spilled out for us. I pray as we think about it, we will not only think about the need to be brought back to you, but, Lord, that we’ll also think about the need to be in relationship with each other.
God I love you. Thank you so much for this Church. We honor you and praise you in Jesus name. Amen.