Friday, December 30, 2011

The church unmasked


Real people...Real problems...Real answers

The first Sunday of the New Year marks the start of a new sermon series at First Pres. Evanston. I will be preaching through all 16 chapters of Paul's first letter to the church at Corinth, a series I am calling Real Church.

This was a real church, with real people, grappling with real problems.

If this church was present in our community would you attend a church racked with so many of the following problems?

Internal conflicts
Lack of confidence in the efficacy of Paul's leadership
Worship problems around the Lord's Supper,
The rightful role of men and women in worship
Spiritual immaturity
Questions about singleness, marriage, divorce
Members suing each other in court
Scandalous sexual practices
Controversies about speaking in tongues and the place of spiritual gifts
And many more problems

Why study such a negative church? Here are my reasons:

1. Reading Paul keeps us from thinking that the early church was perfect, or that the 21st century church has unique problems. I love Paul's honesty. He does not sugar coat the problems of the church. Where ever God's people gather, you can be sure problems will follow. 

2. Some of the most important NT Christological teachings are found here. Whenever the church loses its way it is often caused by a diminished view of Christ. 

3. Every discouraged leader needs a healthy does of this letter. Paul's optimism about the future of this church is infectious. Instead of growing weary or becoming jaded by their problems, he points to Christ: The power of his cross is the only means of salvation and the glory of the resurrection is the basis for the gospel and the foundation of the church

4. Paul speaks the truth in love. We all need to learn how to do this well. Truth must never be sacrificed in the name of tolerance.

5. What does it mean to be faithful to Christ in a pagan culture like Corinth? Paul gives some important clues for our time!

Pray for us and come and study I Corinthians at First Pres. 

Question: What questions do you want answered from I Corinthians?