And so, brothers and sisters, I could not speak to you as spiritual people, but rather as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for solid food. Even now you are still not ready, for you are still of the flesh. For as long as there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving according to human inclinations? For when one says, “I belong to Paul,” and another, “I belong to Apollos,” are you not merely human? What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you came to believe, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. The one who plants and the one who waters have a common purpose, and each will receive wages according to the labor of each. For we are God’s servants, working together; you are God’s field, God’s building. [NRSA]
• We are servants in God’s field
• We are called to work together – some planting, some watering, some fertilizing, some harvesting
• We are the instruments of God’s building.
As you know one of my priorities has been to keep our congregation as informed about the denomination status and issues. Sometimes this is helpful and at other times we only commiserate in frustration of what we don’t know and what we can’t control. Your Administrative Council is becoming more informed and studying the issues that we will be facing in the months ahead so that nothing comes as a surprise. So look forward to the fruit of their work, conference and district ‘town hall meetings’ and the ongoing prayerful challenge we share to be the body Christ at Rock Spring.
With that reminder, I offer this passage this morning for our encouragement:
The Apostle Paul writes to encourage the church at Corinth, Greece that is faced with many divisions with it this lesson that we are blessed to have in our day.
Early in his letter, he reminds the church: (1Cor2.14-16) The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, for, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
1. Spiritual matters are foolish to those who not following the Holy Spirit.
Therefore, do not be worn out by those who think our faithfulness is foolish in their opinion and in their understanding.
2. Paul reminds that “We are servants in God’s field”
a. This is a two-part reminder. First, in following Christ, we are servants and followers.
b. Second, our scope of responsibility is to God and not to the world’s foolishness.
3. Third, we are called to work together with one another, IN the Holy Spirit.
a. THIS IS the point of reflection for today for us. When we are not working together, it becomes clear
b. That we are not working in the Spirit
c. We are not working in God’s field, or scope, or arena
d. Recall from (Gen 11:4) Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”
i. The Tower of Babel is the landmark case of God scattering the work when people put themselves head of God’s plan, God’s scope, God’s field of work.
e. Paul calls out those who have been baptized by one Leader or the other, and the alliances that follow as one teach being right and the other being wrong.
i. Paul says earlier: “I’m glad I baptized none of you so you don’t drag me into this mess.”
f. POINT: When we who are in the one Spirit, share the ONE mind of Christ, Working together in the same field for God, Though we may have different gifts, talents, and skills, share the same work that should be united in God and not dividing God’s people, not dividing God’s witness, not dividing God’s work.
The fact that the church is in the process of division and divorces is self-affirmation that we are out of bounds.
4. Notice: Unity is not that we all agree on the same word, it is we are all doing what is in God’s best interest and not our own.
a. Said another way, the goal is not a unity of what’s in our Book of Disciplines, rather UNIFIED in serving God.
The Course Correction
So what difference is this all to us. Are we not just the victims of the politics of others? No, we are all parts of the same body. Different parts and members but with the same mind of Christ.
When we are divided into Christ’s name, it becomes clear that we are NOT operating with the same mind of Christ.
Just as with the fig tree
(Luke 13: 6-9) Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’ “ ‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’ ”
The purpose of a fig tree: to bear leaves or figs?
The purpose of the church is to bear fruit for the kingdom:
• When we say, well it would be better if this fig tree could bear blackberries AND figs. Foolishness
• When we say, let’ just find something else to eat if the figs aren’t in our season. Foolishness
• When we say, I don’t like figs anyway, who cares.
• We have the task of making disciples of Jesus Christ, not agreeing in politics.
• We have the calling of showing the world how to work together as SERVANTS, not as those being served or pleased or approved. We have that covered in the grace of Jesus Christ.
Paul writes for us and the church in Corinth:
• Serve God not ourselves
• God’s field not our own
• Our unity of trust in God is our witness to a world who calls us foolish
• God is bearing figs not politics, not agendas, not policies, not opinion polls, not ideologies.
Lord, I am your fig, the fruit of your blessing and grace.
If am I posing as a fig but am actually something else, have mercy on me a sinner, nurture and fertilized me another season of your grace.
May I do the part for your church that You have called and created, that you have died and been raised, that you have loved and infused me with your blessings, become your fig for a world of fools who are hungry for you. Amen.