“Being The Very Last” ( 1 Corinthians 11: 19, NIV ) by Carley Evans


Perhaps Paul is not being facetious when he tells the church at Corinth, “No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval.” But in his letter, he writes, “In the following directives I have no praise for you.” (1 Corinthians 11:17) Therefore, it is conceivable Paul is pointing out that these men are divisive when they “come together as a church” in order to show themselves as better than one another. The awful, sometimes gut-wrenching and always anxiety producing desire to be recognized as the best of many or at least the better of two is often destructive of all — of the whole body of Christ.

I think of the two disciples, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who ask Jesus for the privilege of sitting at places of honor when He comes into His kingdom. Rather than being satisfied with their current walk with Him and the promise of being with Him in eternity, they each struggle for more — for that which they are not qualified. For Jesus tells them they know not what they are asking.

The disciples — not only James and John — argue on the road to Capernaum “about who is the greatest.” (Mark 9:34) And Jesus says, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.” (Mark 9:35)

Seeking recognition from others rather than serving others is self-defeating and ultimately destructive. Be at peace with who you are, what God has given to you, and what He asks of you and where He has placed you. Start there at “the very last.”

“The Temple Of The Living God” ( Colossians 3: 15, HCSB ) by Carley Evans


(Wednesday, November 24, 2010 at 8:29pm)

“And let the peace of the Messiah, to which you are also called in one body, control your hearts. Be thankful.”

 

Paul writes of the “perfect bond of unity” which is love. He calls us to allow the peace of Christ to control our hearts. With Christ’s peace and His love, how can we not be united? What causes divisions in the body of Christ? Differing views of our Lord? I rather doubt that.

 

Divisions are caused by earthly things which are sometimes labeled ‘spiritual’ — usually by which church we attend or refuse to attend, whether we sprinkle or immerse for baptism, whether we call the Lord’s Supper the Eucharist or Communion, whether Mary is the Queen of Heaven or the virgin mother of Jesus, whether we use only the King James Version or we like The Living Bible, whether we speak in tongues or remain quiet in prayer, whether we respond to the ‘altar call’ or confess our sins to a priest, whether we believe in ‘laying on of hands’ or in modern medicine, whether we believe in predestination or free will, and so forth.

 

Rather than argue or fight over these sometimes important issues, Paul calls us to “accept one another in love, diligently keeping the unity of the Spirit with the peace that binds us. There is one body and one Spirit — just as [we] are called to one hope at [our] calling — one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:2-6)

 

The key element is the unity of the Spirit which is due to our calling and to the one faith we share. Focus on the Holy Spirit who unites us. For we are the temple of the Living God.

“One Faith” (Ephesians 4: 2, ESV) by Carley Evans


We are commanded to “bear with one another in love.” We are to be “humble and gentle, with patience” in our dealings with one another. Paul implies here that sometimes other Christians may be irritating, divisive, argumentative, critical.

Paul wants us to “maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4: 3) Again, he implies here that sometimes we do not have unity in the body of Christ as we ought.

Of course, this should be painfully obvious to us today. We have a myriad of denominations in the greater Church, each with some crucial (or worse) miniscule difference from another. The Roman Catholic church maintains that the greatest sin is this division in the Body of Christ, the true Church. This is hard to argue against. I know Paul agrees.

“There is one body and one Spirit — just as you are called to the one hope that belongs to your call — one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and in all.” (Ephesians 4: 4 – 6)

The aim, the upward call of God is that “we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4: 13)