In our series, "Messy Church," we're going to get slightly out of order and jump to 1 Corinthians 6:1-11, but don't worry, we'll get back to chapter 5 next week. I'm doing this because chapter 5 and the latter half of chapter 6 share the same theme. I want to deal with them together. For this week, we're looking at Paul's charge about Christians taking other Christians to court.
It's easy to look at 1 Corinthians 6:1-11 as a statement about the lawsuits, but it's much more than that. The scope of this text, in fact, goes well beyond the courtroom and makes charges against the heart and mind. It's a statement about how one should view and value the righteous, blood-bought people of the Church over the unsaved, unregenerate, untransformed people of the world.
But be warned: 1 Corinthians 6:1-11 is not about looking down on the people of the world. Paul reminds his readers that we were once those people too. Instead, it's about seeing the potential for the people of God to live and dwell in unity. It's about looking up to see how remarkable God is, that he puts his wisdom in the believers of his Church. This text is about seeing Christ in your fellow brothers and sisters and what that means for you and your faith-family, and what that says about God.
When the Church looks so much like the world that we fail to see the righteousness, wisdom, and power of God within the Church, and therefore turn to the world's wisdom or guidance, something has gone disastrously wrong.
The believers in Corinth were suing one another! It was as if they completely forgot Matthew 18:15-20. They devalued the Holy Spirit and the power of the gospel for redemption and reconciliation. They didn't believe the local church could help bring the gospel to bear on the sins of the individuals so that repentance might be sought. That says a lot about their view of the gospel and their view of the church. Sadly, not much has changed. Too often, our solution is to blame the church, but that's not what Paul does. He points the finger squarely at each one of us.
But there's hope!
Paul pointed out the problem. He drew a sharp contrast between the people of God and the people of the world. But notice that his solution is not to complain about the courts or how our society is so litigious. We should expect that of our unbelieving community. Instead, Paul reminded the church in Corinth of the power of God. He argued that we must be different than our litigious neighbors.
1 Corinthians 6:11 says "But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ by the Spirit of our God." If you are a follower of Jesus Christ and have surrender your life to him, this is true of you. It's also true of your brothers and sisters in Christ. They are washed, sanctified, and justified in Christ. The world is not (yet). If you believe this, are you not better to discuss your issues between those who believe the gospel and have been transformed by it? Is there not a better way?
I'll be looking at 1 Corinthians 6:1-11 this Sunday. I challenge you to read it a few times this week. Let God's words stir around in our mind. Let God speak to you from his Word. And come prepared to worship and respond to God on Sunday. We meet at 11am.
For the Kingdom!
Pastor Bryan Catherman