We’re starting a new series today called MESSY SAINTS. We’re going to take a deep dive into 1 Corinthians– a letter from the apostle Paul to the people of Corinth.

What’s awkward about this letter is that Paul is revealing the ugliness of what’s happening in Corinth. (Located in Peloponnese, Greece, now known as Archaia Korinthos.) He’s revealing skeletons in the closet. The letter was a private conversation between Paul and the Corinth community. The community was like a home church, like our Feast Lights which has 10-30 members per home. Most probably, a total of 150 parishioners.

There are a few lessons to learn from 1 Corinthians:

  1. Paul knew the Corinthians He lived in Corinth for 18 months.
  2. Even if it’s labeled

1 Corinthians, this is not the first letter. This is more like a reply to a letter they sent to him.

After Paul lived in Corinth, he moved to Asia Minor. There, he received a letter from the people of Corinth. The letter said that there was a conflict in the community.

So, Paul addressed them through 1 Corinthians.

Paul addressed these five issues that were happening in church.

Is something familiar to you? These are the same problems in home churches today.

What was Paul trying to tell us? He was simply blasting our false idea that the church is perfect, like Heaven on Earth. If you expect the church to be perfect, you’ve got the wrong idea. As long as you are living on Planet Earth, the human church will always be chaotic.

You don’t have to look far for proof. Look at your own life. Did your life become perfect when you started attending church? No! Then why expect church to be perfect? The people who head church are imperfect.

Have you ever been questioned by some people, “Why do you get angry?

You go to the Feast, right?”

The perfect answer to that is this: “That’s precisely the reason I go to church– I’m imperfect. I need God’s grace. I fail but at least, I’m in church. I learn from God.

Let’s lift our hands as we all sing:

Thy Word is a Lamp unto my feet and a Light unto my path

Corinth ‘Saints’

When you’re writing a letter or an e-mail today, the first thing you do is you write the name of the one who’s going to receive the letter, and then you put your name in the end.

Back in the day, it was different. They wrote their names first and then addressed the people they were talking to.

But what’s interesting in this Scripture is how Paul addresses the people of Corinth:

Wait a minute… You mean to tell me that these guys who are disobedient, disunited, self-righteous people are called to be saints? There’s a disconnect somewhere.

I might say the same thing about you. Did you know that you’re called to be saints? May I give you an analogy…

If you’re building a house, the first thing that you’re going to do is you’ll go to your architect so he can draw designs. But the moment you go to the construction site, what do you see? Debris, dirt, and dust. It’s anything but nice.

The same thing happens in your life. I’m going to borrow a quote I heard earlier,

“Why is a building called building when it’s already been built? Shouldn’t it be called built?

If you’re logical, that’s true. You want to know why it’s called building? Because the act of building never stops. Even if the building has been built already, you will still renovate and enhance it.

So, some of you here may have been converted or encountered Jesus– but make no mistake, you’re still under construction. That construction will take a lifetime for God to finish. It’s not going to be overnight.

That is the process of sanctification – you have been saved, you are being saved, and you will be saved. You’re under construction and God is taking you from glory to glory, strength to strength, miracle to miracle. My message for you today is Go Back to The Cross.

The Reality, The Truth

Let’s pray:

Father in Heaven, this is Your Word.

It’s alive and it’s active. It’s touching hearts right now. As we break open Your wisdom, we pray that it lands on fertile ground and that it produces wisdom and practicality, so we know where to apply it in each one’s day-to-day life. Father, we Thank You for Your love, compassion, and mercy. We walk in truth today and we embrace what you’re about to tell us. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Thy Word is a Lamp unto my feet and a Light unto my path

The people who were living in Corinth were a bunch of intellectuals who had wealth and high status in society.

But when you’ve got wisdom, money, and influence, you’re not normally in touch with reality. The Corinthians were gifted but not grounded.

There is no problem with having too many gifts. But the problem is when you’re too focused on the gifts, you lose sight and focus on the One who gave you the gifts to begin with. So, Paul addresses them:

‘Party Lists’

Today, we have Party Lists.* During the ancient times, there were already Party Lists. Those who like Paul belong to Paul’s party. Those who favor Apollo belong to Apollo’s party. They had preferences.

There is nothing wrong with having favorites.

The problem is when we become more loyal to our cliques than to Christ.

Listen to Paul’s advice to them: “When you become disunited, Go Back to The Cross.”

Let’s face it, conflicts arise because of one root source – pride. It’s ego.

Ego is the part that tells you, “I’m right, you’re wrong.” “You’re weak, I’m strong.” “I’m wise, you’re dumb.”

In earlier millennia, God’s church was struggling with infighting.

How many churches did Jesus establish? Just one. But now there are 45,000 denominations and non-denominational churches, not to mention the communities in the Catholic church alone. God’s church has splintered.

Paul is simply saying that if you want to go back to the beginning,

Go Back to The Cross.

*Aside from individuals running for election, a party (a group with a common goal or advocacy) may put forward a list of candidates who stand for election on one ticket.

Go Back to the Cross

What happened at the Cross? Jesus died– and lived. Why did He die? Because He loves you and me.

Every time there is a division in your life– not just in church but even in your relationships– Go Back to the Cross. When you’re struggling in your marriage, go back to the intention of Jesus about marriage.

There is blessing when you’re wise but there is also blessing when you’re grounded.

The people of Corinth were worshipping the wise people. But if you weren’t wise, they wouldn’t hear you out.

Paul tore them down when he said, “God is going to break the wisdom of the wise.” True wisdom can only come from God.

We, Filipinos have this culture of being proud of our grandfathers. We like to brag about them. But have you noticed, we don’t brag about our God? Why? Simply because nobody can be greater than Jesus. He’s the Alpha and the Omega. After Him, there is nothing else.

When everything is going wrong in the community, ministry, and life itself, the simple advice of Paul is this: “Always go back to the beginning. Always Go Back to the Cross.” When you look at the Cross, you will wonder what can be greater than the Cross.

Who else sacrificed the way Jesus did? Nobody.

Today, we have this privilege of going back to Him. To see Jesus clearing the Temple again. To point us in the right direction. Nothing else matters– only Jesus.

We fix our eyes on You, Jesus. We apologize for all our transgressions. For making everything all about us.

For making the church about my needs alone. For being selfish about my wants and my needs.

Today, I put my needs at the foot of Your Cross. When I see You, all my self-bloated righteousness shrinks down to its proper size. I know that I cannot be greater than You. I cannot outdo what you’ve done for me. Thank You for Your mercy, grace, and love.

The only response that I can give is to lift my hands and simply surrender my whole life into Your hands. I am Yours and You are mine. Forever and ever. Amen.

This story was first published in the Feast Family Online News Magazine

Published by THE FEAST (March 10, 2024)



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