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Posts Tagged ‘Corinthian church’

Verse 1: “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.”

My wife and I got involved in a puppy-raiser program for a guide dog school; this school would breed puppies to become guide dogs for blind people. From 3 months old to 1 year, families would take the puppies into their homes, raise them, care for them, teach them basic obedience and commands (with school help, of course), socialize them, and love them. We had a 3-month old Labrador puppy named Elcon to raise; Elcon had plenty of personality! We were despairing if we would make it through the nine months as Elcon just wasn’t “getting” the basic obedience part. Our best friends were a couple who were raising a puppy as well alongside the wife’s guide dog (the wife was blind). They suggested we bring Elcon over and have a group obedience session. When they would give their dogs a command, they would obey. Elcon began seeing this and started imitating their behavior. It wasn’t long before Elcon started obeying commands very well…the trick was his imitating the behavior of other dogs doing the same commands.

Paul was concluding the previous chapter in his letter to the Corinthian church, encouraging the flock to serve Christ and live their lives as Christ lived His on earth. He wanted them to be concerned with the salvation of others, and to live their lives to reflect that. Having done that himself, he was urging them to imitate the way he lived his life, because he lived his life to imitate the life of Christ.

Remember, we may be the only Jesus some people see; these same people may never enter a church building or open a Bible. So whom do people see? Do they see you…or do they see Jesus?

Something to think about.

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Verse 13: “”No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”

In the movie Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Lt. Saavik, a Vulcan-Romulan Starfleet cadet, is questioning Admiral Kirk about a leadership test she feels she failed. The Kobayashi Maru was a battle scenario designed to be “the no-win situation” and test cadets on how they respond to it. Captain Spock, later in private conversation with Kirk, reminds the admiral that Kirk took the test 3 times, before his 3rd try was graded passing. Later on in the movie, on an actual mission, Kirk and his landing party have been seemingly marooned by Kirk’s old enemy, Khan Noonien Singh (brilliantly played by the great Ricardo Montalban). Saavik again questions Kirk on how he did on the test when he was a cadet.

Dr. McCoy: Lieutenant, you are looking at the only Starfleet cadet who beat the no-win scenario (points at Kirk).
Lt. Saavik: How?
Admiral Kirk: I reprogrammed the simulation so that it was possible to rescue the ship.
Lt. Saavik: What?
David Marcus: (scoffs) He cheated.
Admiral Kirk: Changed the conditions of the test. Got a commendation for original thinking. I don’t like to lose.
Lt. Saavik: Then you’ve never faced that situation…faced death.
Admiral Kirk: I don’t believe in the no-win scenario.

The scene continues with Kirk proving his point by surprising everyone with contacting Captain Spock and getting rescued, which they alluded over an open channel would take days to accomplish (since they knew Khan would be listening in on communications).

The devil loves to use temptation against Christians, especially to make them think they’re strong enough to resist on their own. He delights in watching trapped Christians wallow in what they think is a no-win situation, that there is no way out. As Paul stated to the Corinthians (remember, he was admonishing the Corinthian believer who might think he was strong enough to participate in pagan religious functions, yet not compromise his Christian walk) that God was and is always faithful to provide a way out. Sometimes that way is another combative technique or a strategic maneuver. Sometimes, like in Joseph’s case, it’s just to run like the wind away from the temptation! But there’s never a no-win situation: God provided a way out for us.

His name is Jesus Christ.

Something to think about.

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Verse 16: “Therefore I urge you, imitate me.”

Chief Martin Brody had had a hard day. Between dealing with the mayor of Amity and the politics of not hurting the island’s tourist business and the more serious matter of convincing people that they had a shark problem on their hands (after the deaths that had occurred), he was worn. At home, after supper while his wife was putting away dishes, the chief sat at the table with his young son, Sean. He took a drink from his glass, and so did Sean. He put his head in his hands, and so did Sean. His wife paused at the kitchen door, watching this interplay. Brody then finally cut his eyes toward his son and realized he was imitating him. He interlocked his fingers, and Sean followed suit. He flexed his fingers and so did Sean. Then he slowly made a mean face with his hands and Sean, in his little boy way, tried to do the same…the result was a funny little face. The chief leaned over to him and said “Come here.” Sean leaned over and the Brody said “give us a kiss”. “Why?” Sean asked innocently. After a pause, the chief said, “because I need it.” Sean kissed his daddy on the cheek, and shortly thereafter was sent up to bed. Despite the weary load he carried, Brody knew he was still a hero in his son’s eyes…all because of his imitation of him.

The above scene was from the blockbuster movie Jaws, directed by Steven Spielberg. While watching the clip on Youtube, I read a post from someone who claimed that this scene took place between shots, and was not even in the script at the time. Spielberg, when he saw it, filmed it and put it in the movie. (Again, this was from an unsubstantiated post, but it would be neat if it was true).

An oft old axiom goes, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” For children who love their parents, it is normally a sign of their love that they imitate what they do. Paul here was urging the Corinthian church, who he called “his children” to imitate him…not imitate false leaders. He wanted them to adhere to the true Gospel and more, to adopt the humility that he showed, not the false pride they seemed to be displaying. Of course, this meant they would be called “fools” by the world, but that was what Paul was called for the sake of spreading the Gospel (references here from my Holman Concordance on I & II Corinthians, and my Holman Bible footnotes).

So whom are you imitating today?

Something to think about today.

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Verse 1: “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ.”

Reed Richards awakened in a predicament. He and his family in the Fantastic Four had defeated their enemies, the Frightful Four, despite the fact that Reed had lost his stretching powers. But in a brazen move, the Brute dragged Reed into the Negative Zone chamber of their Baxter Building headquarters, knocked him out, took on his costume, and cast him into the Negative Zone. You see, the Brute was really the Reed Richards of Counter-Earth, who had been rendered evil by a concussion when he received his brutish form and strength via cosmic rays. He had stolen Reed’s costume to impersonate him on this Earth, since he could change back to his lookalike appearance (this took place in the Marvel comic Fantastic Four, Vol. 1, issue 179, the synopsis can be found at http://marvel.wikia.com/wiki/Fantastic_Four_Vol_1_179)

Fear and panic begin to grip Reed, but he snapped out of it, calling on his military survival training. Making his way to a floating asteroid, he managed to start a fire with some flint-like stones. Attracting some of the flying bat-like creatures of the zone with the fire light, Reed was able to use a rock to knock one down, kill it, and cook it on the fire. As he surmised, now that he had taken care of basic needs like food, warmth, and protection by the fire, he could now train his great intellect on what had happened…and how he could escape his predicament.

You see, in order to tackle more difficult topics, Reed Richards had to take care of basic needs first. The word carnal has several definitions, but the basic one has to do with things of the physical body.

Paul was explaining here that he truly wished to speak with the Corinthian church on spiritual matters and issues, but they weren’t mature enough yet. He called them carnal, like spiritual babes. Even though he had brought them to saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, they were still too carnal, too not-ready, to receive Paul’s teachings on spiritual things. They still were behaving with “envy, strife, and divisions”…thus were they still carnal. He repeated the point that some still argued their allegiances to him and others to Apollos, instead of to Christ. You might say he was telling them, “you haven’t graduated yet!”

You see, in order to tackle more spiritual teaching, Paul had to get the church past the carnal stage.

As we begin this new year of 2019, I pray that you all (myself included) would seek God and His wisdom to grow in Him, and graduate from church kindergarten, so to speak.

Something to think about.

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Verses 4-5: “And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”

There is no better feeling than when you are used by God, and through His power, not your own.

Our church choir recently performed our annual Christmas program. We are blessed with a very knowledgeable, talented, and experienced music minister (blessed by God), who often picks out various pieces of different styles for our choir to sing. We finished the program with a magnificent operatic arrangement of Christ is Born; the lead solos were 4 men, and the music minister had asked me to be the 2nd tenor solo in this piece. Now, without bragging, I’ve sung solos before and I believe I have a pretty good voice; but nothing in my experience had prepared me for the challenge of this solo. Our music minister (bless his heart) worked with me and drilled me a lot on operatic style of belting out this solo, from pronunciation to breathing techniques. Come performance night, I was anxious. What’s more, the Christ is Born piece was at the END of a 40-minute program. I had some water hidden under my chair and took sips when I could. Come time to walk down, I bent over to grab one last sip…and turned over the cup! (not to worry, it didn’t spill through the lid). However, I had no time to get one more swig of water.

It was at that point, that I prayed quickly, “ok, Lord, it’s all on You, because I can’t sing this with my voice this tired on my own.” It’s funny, it felt almost like God said back to me, “I’ve got this, I’m all you need.” I went out and sang with all my heart; God blessed my efforts. I had several compliments from folks and my music minister later told my wife that I did great! All glory to God! (oh, and by the way, God had me again that night when we sang a 2nd performance of this same program not more than one hour later!)

I tell you all this to remind you what Paul was doing. I have always admired Paul for his eloquence of argument and his speaking abilities, but I forgot (until I read this passage) that he was relying on the Lord to give him the power to address the Corinthian congregation here. That church was starting to slip back into relying on human wisdom, and Paul reminded them that the real power, the real wisdom, comes from the Holy Spirit!

Just remember an old adage I’ve heard before and is appropriate here: let go and let God!

Something to think about.

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