I Corinthians 12:1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2 You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led. 3 Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.I will be spending a little bit of time in I Corinthians 12. So interesting that Romans 12 has such a strong connection with I Corinthians 12 and 13. Paul really spent time in drilling down the fundamentals of unity in a church that was going to have such diversity as the gospel was bringing in the gentiles.
Different cultures, skin color, religious training, moral standards, loyalties were all responding to the good news and the resulting church was a tinderbox for conflict or misunderstanding.
Fragmentation is a very dangerous thing. In times of peace, little cracks are barely visible- but when the pressure builds, an entire structure can crumble to ruins in an instance.
Adversity usually reveals the level of unity of any organization or group.
The reason Abraham Lincoln made the impossible decision to advance on the South was his strong belief that the United States would be in deeper trouble if it were left to fester and splinter. He quoted Jesus's true statement that a divided house cannot stand.
Lincoln, June 16 1858 (notice this was his belief before his term as President):
Under the operation of that policy, that agitation has not only, not ceased, but has constantly augmented.In my opinion, it will not cease, until a crisis shall have been reached, and passed."A house divided against itself cannot stand."I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free.I do not expect the Union to be dissolved -- I do not expect the house to fall -- but I do expect it will cease to be divided.It will become all one thing or all the other.
I worry about how divided we are as a nation- polling shows close to 50/50. The more down the middle a division is the more difficult the divide.
So how does the Holy Spirit guide Paul in writing these letters, dealing with the need for uniformity without unanimity? How can America stay true to the motto: E Plurabis Unum "out of the many, one"?
It all hinges on who we follow.
For years I have been making the statement: ALL MEN LIVE BY FAITH. We ALL trust in something. When an atheist says, "You have faith and I have reason" it is not true. The man of reason does not have perfect knowledge of all facts. He has never looked behind Mars. He is trusting in a lot of ideas, facts, materials, view points that have been handed down to him. He has a lot of faith in his facts and his perspective.
He may counter and say, "No, I just use logic." My response is A: Where did the universal standards of logic come from? and B: He has FAITH that his logic is sound.
The skeptic and I both live by faith- my faith is in the Creator, his faith is in the creature. One of us is wrong.
Here is one more point: ALL MEN FOLLOW.
You say, "Not me. I am my own man and my own boss." So you follow yourself.
In I Corinthians 12:1 Paul is introducing the main idea that Christians all have different gifts and ability, but all under the direction of the One true God and eventually will lead to the famous love concepts in chapter 13.
But in verse 2 he makes a powerful statement:
You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led.I have always found it interesting that we so easily fall into idolatry. We think we control the idol- but it quickly and powerfully controls us.
Every so often I pick up my iphone and can't help but notice how idol sized it is. It is a 'talking idol'- I carefully protect it, heck- I even stroke it like a pet. Do I control it? Is it under the Lordship of Christ? or does it have it's grip on me?
There is a part of me that wants to try a 40 day media/devices/screens/electronics fast and see how I would do. It would have to take a lot of planning, cooperation, and help- but I do think it would be beneficial.
Question: How do idols lead us astray? When even good things become god things, they are elevated to a position that they will fall short of expectations. Marriage is a very good thing. But if I think marriage will completely fill me up, make me secure, give me a mission, cover my sins, encourage me when I am down- then, I am foolish because even a great marriage will fall short of those ideals. And when we are disappointed, or betrayed we wander into spirals of anger, fear, depression, selfishness- and before we know it we are attaching ourselves to all kind of things that promise high and deliver low.
But I digressed......
The only true way to unity with diversity is to follow the leader. And the best hope for that is to follow Christ.
Find good people who follow Christ and follow them as they follow Christ- but always evaluating and searching the Scriptures so that together the goal is to follow the King.
The class warfare divide in this country? Would disappear if we followed Christ.
The racial divide? Would disappear if we followed Christ.
There would still be problems and enemies- but the character and call of Christ would give us to tools to make these issues bearable until He comes back to fix it all permanently.
Now the final point: No one can do this without the Holy Spirit.
no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy SpiritThe Holy Spirit is the helper that Jesus promised. He convicts us of sin and brings to remembrance the things we have been taught of God in His word. He empowers us in our fight against sin and He comforts us with peace and joy.
The big key is to not grieve Him by habitual or unconfessed sin.
SO we woke up today in God's great mercy.
And we are getting ready to follow somebody.
Who will we follow today?