Sunday, June 23, 2013

By the Grace of God . . .

I was looking for something entirely different today when I happened across 1 Corinthians 5:9-13.  Paul is addressing a serious problem in the Corinthian church.  I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that the reason this particular passage made it into the canon or Scripture that makes up our modern Bible, irrespective of your personal flavor of choice (providing, of course that you are reading from an actual translation and not an interpretation or paraphrase) is because the matter being discussed didn’t simply go away when the first century church became the second century church and so on. If I may be so bold, personal observation suggests that the matter at hand is still an issue begging attention in the 21st century church.
Here’s what Paul wrote to the seriously screwed up body of believers in Corinth (and, I think, to us as well):
9 I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. 10 Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner- not even to eat with such a person.
12 For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? 13 But those who are outside God judges. Therefore "put away from yourselves the evil person." 1 Corinthians 5:9-13 NKJV
Two things caught my attention. First, the perverse, rampant sexual sin about which Paul is referring isn’t going on outside in the unsaved world, it’s going on in the church, along with a bunch of other equally distasteful acts of unrighteousness!  Second, the Corinthian believers, who were quick to pass judgment on the practices of the world seemed to be noticeable tolerant of their own perverse activities.
As I said, I kind of stumbled across this while looking for something else. It made sense when I read the first of five passages in the Through the Bible in a Year plan I’m reading.  It comes from Psalm 7.  I read the entire Psalm.  It was the first of five.  Because I’m reading the Chronological plan, these were Psalms that were written about the time Saul was chasing David all over creation looking to murder him out of jealous rage.  Saul found himself in need of taking care of certain personal necessities, and retired to a nearby cave to perform them.  A cave where, by no small coincidence, the aforementioned David was hiding.
David had the perfect opportunity to rid himself of this pesky enemy, and was being encouraged to do so, but was hung up on the small fact that, well, yeah, Saul was his enemy, and trying to kill him and all, but (don’t you just hate buts?!?!?”) Until He said otherwise, Saul was Still God’s Anointed.
David prayed and sought God’s direction.  God confirmed David’s gut feeling about the whole anointed thing, and David let the King live, secretly slicing a corner of his robe while the King was otherwise occupied. You can read what follows in 1 Samuel 26.  My point is that the story recorded here was yesterday’s reading in the chronological read.  Psalm 7 was the first of the 5 chapters from today’s read. There are 17 verses in Psalm 7.  I wish to direct you to two very interesting prayers in the first five verses.  The connection to Corinthians should be self-evident.
1 O Lord my God, in You I put my trust; Save me from all those who persecute me;
And deliver me,
2 Lest they tear me like a lion,
Rending me in pieces, while there is none to deliver.

3 O Lord my God, if I have done this:
If there is iniquity in my hands,
4 If I have repaid evil to him who was at peace with me,
Or have plundered my enemy without cause,
5 Let the enemy pursue me and overtake me;
Yes, let him trample my life to the earth,
And lay my honor in the dust. Selah”
The skull cracking realization came to me that more often than I would like to admit, the first two verses look like s lot of my prayers: “Lord save my butt from those crummy rats out to get me and, while I have your attention, would you mind doing that burning coals on their heads thing you do, yeah?  Thanks.
Equally humbling was the realization was how very few of my prayers about my lack of righteousness sounded like verses 3-5; “O Lord, My God, Look what I have done!  How could I?  God in Heaven, release me to those against whom I have sinned and let them do as they will with me for your Grace and Glory, Amen”
I feel strongly that I am being led to be part of a church plant.  I don’t know when, where, or with whom.  I have only the sense that it will be my job to be the support guy for the Shepherd. And I know to do that, my attitude, my life, and my prayer life need to change.  My desire is to be the man, father, husband, whatever, that God wants me to be, and for that to happen, my prayers need more of the second part and less of the first.
Our call is simple.  It is to go, make disciples, baptize, repeat, and by the grace of God. . .

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