Pseudochristians One-a-Day Tuesday 9/27/22

A life worthy

But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. (1 Corinthians 5:11).

They claim Christ, but their lives…

Beloved, there’s a little hypocrisy firmly enmeshed in all of us. None of us lives our life in utter purity. We stumble, we fall, we keep trying.

But then there’s the pretender. He says all the right things, but lives a life that is directly at odds with all he claims to believe–at odds with the very Lord he claims to serve. He is in the world and of the world, but figures he can say a few magic words and all will be well.

It doesn’t work that way.

Steer clear of that one, Beloved. Wherever you see him. Find the people who will draw you closer to Christ, who are an example of living out this faith of ours. Spend time with them. Life’s too short for anything else.

Happy Tuesday, Beloved

In the World… One-a-Day Monday 9/26/22

A life worthy

I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people–not at all meaning people of this world who are immroal, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters.  In that case you would have to leave this world.  (1 Corinthians 5:9-10).

In the world,

but not of it.

Jesus prayed to the Father about this, “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world, but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.”(John 17:15-17)

We’re in it, Beloved.

Surrounded by it…immersed in it.

But we don’t have to be of it. We don’t have to let it in.

I didn’t say it was easy.

But

It is what we’re called to.

And we have help–Jesus saw to that himself.

Happy Monday, Beloved.

Feast Without Yeast  One-a-Day Friday 9/23/22

A life worthy

Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth  (1 Corinthians 5:8).

Time to wrap up the bread analogy–maybe put a twist tie on it.

Beloved, when you come to God, do you come with all the junk and garbage and fluff and stuff and nonsense and yeast that you carry around all the time?

or

Do you grab a broom and try to sweep it out?

Please don’t get me wrong–I’m not saying that you could ever get that heart of yours clean enough to merit a meeting with God.

But he does like it when you make the attempt.

As you come to him this morning–or afternoon, or whenever–try clearing out some of the yeast. You know, spruce up a little bit.  And if you just can’t–and sometimes you just can’t–go to him anyway, and ask him to sweep it out for you. He’s very good at that.

Happy Friday, Beloved

The Lamb  of God   One-a-Day Thursday 9/22/22

A life worthy

Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast–as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. (1 Corinthians 5:7)

“Behold! The Lamb of God!”

When John the Baptist spoke these words, he knew exactly what he was saying. At the first Passover, the night before Moses led God’s people from Egypt, the blood of a lamb–perfect, of course, and unblemished–was put on the lintel and doorposts of each Israelite’s home. The blood  was a sign to the Angel of Death that these were God’s people, and so the angel would pass over that house. 

Paul reminds the Corinthians that Jesus is the final Passover Lamb.

So, as the Israelites scoured and swept their homes to remove any traces of yeast in preparation for the Passover, Paul calls us to examine our lives for any traces of sin as we prepare our hearts for…

Him

Got a good broom, Beloved?

Happy Thursday

Hand Him Over One-a-Day Tuesday 9/20/22

A life worthy

When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus, and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord (1 Corinthians 5:5).

Wow

I mean…

Wow

It’s hard to get past that line–”Hand this man over to Satan…”

I can’t really convey to you just how very much I never want to hear those words referencing  me.

But, of course, it’s essential to get past that line, so that you get to the heart of the matter. Paul is looking to help this man, to bring him back to Christ. If that means casting him out of fellowship–in essence, letting Satan have him–then so be it. Paul knows that this might just be what it takes to humble him and bring him to repentance. Ultimately, that’s all that matters to Paul.

Call it tough love–equal parts tough and love.

Happy Tuesday, Beloved

Passing Judgment  One-a-Day Monday 9/19/22

A life worthy

Even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. And I have already passed judgment on the one who did this, just as if I were present. When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus, and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present…  (1 Corinthians 5:3-4).

Wait a minute…

Didn’t Jesus tell us not to judge? But Paul is judging. What gives?

Good question, Beloved. You always ask such good questions.

Here’s how I see it–and remember, I’m not a Bible scholar, just a Michael. In Matthew 7, Jesus tells us to “Judge not, lest ye be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use you will be measured.” He goes on to talk about the “speck in the eye” business. I think the point Jesus is making is that we need to attend to our own spiritual business before we go poking our finger into someone else’s. Otherwise, we’re asking to be judged by the same standard that we are using on others, and that is not a winning situation.

Paul is looking at a particular sin–and it’s one neither he nor his readers is likely to have committed. 

I mean, I really hope not.

So, Paul is not worried about being judged as he is judging. He is calling out egregious sin in the Church, and he is dealing with it. Even so, note the care he takes:

“When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus, AND I am with you in spirit, AND the power of our Lord Jesus is present…”

This is no hasty rush to judgment carried out by a self-righteous zealot. This is the entire body coming together in the name and power of Christ to defend the holiness of the Church.

And, as we will see in a bit, to bring the sinner to repentance.

Christ’s injunction to take care in judging does not let you off the hook, Beloved. You still have the responsibility to call out sin, as Paul shows us. Just go easy on the condemnation part, Ya?

Happy Monday, Beloved.

Church Discipline   One-a-Day Friday 9/16/22

A life worthy

It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans: A man has his father’s wife. And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have been filled with grief and have put out of your fellowship the man who did this?  (1 Corinthians 5:1-2).

God has given us freedom from sin

Not freedom to sin

It would appear that the Corinthians had blown off that little nugget of wisdom.

The man Paul is talking about was in clear violation not only of Leviticus 18:8, but of pretty much every known society’s taboos. Even the Romans (those pagans Paul is referencing) thought incest was uber icky. And yes, the wording indicates that it was the man’s step mother, but still…

The Church has a line to walk that is sometimes a little tricky. I mean, if we kicked out everyone who participated in sin, we would be denying grace.

And services would be very lonely times, indeed.

At the same time, there is a difference between a brother who falls and is repentant and a man who revels in licentiousness. 

The Church is called to convey grace and to hold believers accountable.

I wish I could say that this passage is totally foreign to me, that I could never imagine the Church today putting up with–let alone condoning–this kind of evil.

But I can’t

Because it does

Beloved, the Church today is often more likely to celebrate sin than to correct it, much less condemn it. Maybe it’s because church attendance is dwindling, and we don’t want to risk driving the numbers down further by preaching “negative” messages. Maybe it’s because we’re getting caught up in the Spirit of this age, in which being tolerant is the highest good. Maybe confrontation is just too uncomfortable.

But a church that falls into the trap the Corinthians had is failing on multiple levels. It is a joke to the community, who see no difference between those inside the walls and those outside. It is failing the man caught in sin, who is drifting ever further from God while his lifeguards stand and watch. It is letting down the next generation, who are being raised to believe that this behavior is acceptable.

Wow–look at Michael ramble. Think we’ve struck a chord?

Beloved, legalism is bad. So is licentiousness. Let us leave it at that, and pray for wisdom to walk in true grace today.

Happy Friday, Beloved

Church Authority    One-a-Day Thursday 9/15/22

A life worthy

Some of you have become arrogant, as if I were not coming to you. But I will come to you very soon, if the Lord is willing, and then I will find out not only how these arrogant people are talking, but what power they have. For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of talk, but of power. What do you prefer? Should I come to you with a whip, or in love and with a gentle spirit?  (1 Corinthians 4:18-21).

As a general rule people are not big on authority.

Unless, you know, we’re the ones wielding it.

Paul uses a tactic with which I am very familiar, having taught middle school for many years. “Which version of me do you want? The kind, loving, fun version, or the prison guard?”

It’s pretty effective with twelve-year-olds.

Beloved, I don’t know what Paul’s metaphorical whip was, though it does put me in mind of Jesus in the temple with the moneychangers–an image I have always loved. I do know that Paul’s line “The Kingdom of God is not a matter of talk, but of power” is sobering. It stops me cold. How often am I all talk, when God calls me to action?

Yep, too often.

And what, exactly, would that power Paul is talking about look like in my life today?

I don’t know, but I want to.

Thy Kingdom come

on earth…and in me.

Happy Thursday, Beloved.

Integrity   One-a-Day Wednesday 9/14/22

A life worthy

For this reason I am sending to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church. (1 Corinthians 4:17)

Again with the consistency!

My favorite definition of the word integrity is “The quality of being whole or undivided.” 

In other words, if you have integrity, there is no distinction between who you say you are and who you are. You live out the values that you profess.

That’s Paul. He is the epitome of living out our faith. He invites people to look into his life, confident that they will find no hypocrisy.

How do you do on that front, Beloved?

I asked you first.

So how about this: today I will pray that you live a day of integrity, a day in which your outsides match your insides, and all sides reflect the glory of God.

And, you know, if you don’t mind–you pray the same for me.

Happy Wednesday, Beloved.