The Supper of the Lord — 1 Corinthians 11:17-34

Shaun continues the series in Corinthians with Paul’s corrective reaction against the way the Corinthians celebrated the Lord’s supper. Rather than practicing the meal as a celebration of Jesus’ sacrifice and how we all share equally in it, they extended their Roman sense of division between rich and poor to celebrate their own advantages over others. While we may not have the same divisions between courtyard and dining area in our worship today, there are still ways that we need to address division in our worship as the Body of Christ.

  1. How do you know if your worship is genuine?
  2. What are the ways that your worship of Jesus creates divisions between you and others? How many of those divisions are formed around Jesus and how many are formed around you?
  3. How could you leave your advantages “at home” so that worship would not be clouded by self, but reflect the Body of Christ?

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Your Eyes Shall Be Opened–Genesis 2:15-17, 3:1-13, 22a

Max Harris looks at the original deception of the serpent in the garden, how that led to the besetting sin at the core of humanity’s brokenness, and how the person and work of Jesus cured and cures that sin. The sin in view is the assumption that we can discern right and wrong without consulting God.

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The God of Glorious Variety — 1 Corinthians 11:2-16

Shaun continues the series in Corinthians with Paul’s response to an unknown question about how men and women in the church should appear and act. Just as blank piece of paper cannot show the glory of a white cat sleeping in the snow, discarding the distinction between men and women cannot convey the glory of God’s creation. While we have attached additional societal and cultural weight to the distinction of men and women that doesn’t align with God’s teaching, Paul reinforces that it is correct to make some distinctions but not to promote either men or women above the other. Shaun extends that message to today, and outlines an approach for Christians to work toward celebrating gender distinctions.

Questions for Reflection

  1. What gift or blessing do you elevate over others as the better example of God’s care and favor? How might that hierarchy of blessing lead to either arrogance or shame?
  2. Why are we so quick to assume that distinctions require frameworks of power and subordination?
  3. How does the impulse in question 2 reflect the way we think about God’s view of us?
  4. How could you celebrate distinctions of others in praise of God’s glorious variety?

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That’s a Dangerous Game–1 Corinthians 10:1 – 11:1

Shaun’s continuation of the series from 1 Corinthians gets to the culmination of this section of Paul’s letter. Here Paul describes why the Corinthian behavior regarding eating meat sacrificed to idols (etc.) is problematic in a way that was common to Old Testament Israelites: it’s easy to mix “Jesus” with the cultural trends of the day, but doing to fails to represent Jesus accurately and masks our actual lack of exclusive devotion to him.

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Questions for reflection:
1. What is it in your life (person, principle, goal, ideal, etc.) that everything else hinges on? What is “ultimate” for you?

2. In what ways do your actions reflect the above answer? Think of some examples.

3. Does your answer to the first question line up with the reality of your actions?

4. Assuming that the answer to the first question identifies what/who you worship, what will you do to either flee the idol that you have set up or to continue to cultivate your worship of the Lord alone?

Homecoming–Psalm 122

Michael Vogel describes and reflects on the experience expressed by the Psalmist upon arriving at Jerusalem and the temple after a long journey: an experience of joy, unity, and whole peace.

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Questions for reflection:
1. Why is it hard to see the church as your home? How might the Lord’s presence help change that?
2. What do you make into your home? How might you be using the church as a road stop for that destination?
3. With whom do you still lack unity? What are ways you can seek unity with them?
4. How can you pray for the peace of the church? Who do you know is in need of God’s peace? How can you regularly pray for them?

A Generous Example — 1 Corinthians 9:1-27

Shaun continues the series in Corinthians with a continuation of the theme of putting the image of Christ before our personal rights and freedoms. Paul made himself an example of forgoing rights that would be afforded him as an apostle or preacher because it would have clouded the image of Christ he modeled. We, too, need to evaluate whether we make a bigger show of our rights than of Christ.

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Questions for Reflection

  1. What areas of freedom create dilemmas for you when you consider laying down your rights? What makes them so problematic?
  2. How might insisting on “less-than-you-have-a-right-to” inform the way you worship?
  3. Considering the circumstances of you life, where might humbly engaging the patterns of others open doors for ministry? What would it take for you to do that?
  4. How does a focus on Jesus keep this from becoming boundary-less pragmatism?

Our Rights and the Problem of Love — 1 Corinthians 8:1-13

Shaun continues the series in Corinthians with a passage regarding whether Christians can participate in the ritual feasts of the local (non-Christian) religions. Paul cautions the Corinthian church that their role as Christians is to be the image-bearers for Christ in the world, and that exercising freedom without discretion could lead others to fall from faith and follow the practices of the feast rather than Christ. We in the modern day have many freedoms and rights from Christ and from the society we live in, but we need to give consideration to the image we convey when we throw our hat in with the rest of society.

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Question for Reflection:

  1. What are the rights and freedoms you hold most dear? Why?
  2. What rights or freedoms of others cause you frustration when you seem them exercised? Why?
  3. What are ways that insisting on your rights or freedoms might be a “stumbling block” to others?
  4. In what ways have you elevated personal qualms to the level of “stumbling block” and stood in judgment over the actions of others?
  5. How do Jesus’ action help you know what rights to exercise and what rights to lay down?

It’s Kind of About Marriage (Again)–1 Corinthians 7: 25-40

Shaun wraps up a section of Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church with commentary about how the practical advantages and challenges associated with various marital statuses all fall under the governance and prime importance of living in light of the present reality of Jesus eternal reign.

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It’s Kind of About Marriage–1 Corinthians 7: 1-24

Shaun’s sermon series from 1 Corinthians continues with a series of seemingly-disconnected instructions that, upon observation of other main themes from this letter, reflect on how a follower of Jesus should respond to (but not necessarily focus on changing) life’s circumstances.

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In Defense of the Body — 1 Corinthians 6:12-20

Shaun continues the series in Corinthians with Paul’s call to abandon sexual immorality and instead glorify God with our bodies. God modeled our bodies after Himself, so they are not only meaningful to God but also the means by which we reflect God’s nature to other. This is even true of sex, where we model with our bodies the unity-with-distinction of the Trinity. We need to maintain our bodies and treat them respectfully rather than devalue them.

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