Upside Down

There is no doubt that when Jesus came He turned everything upside down. The way the Jewish culture was used to living and worshipping were challenged. Of course, anytime you try to change something, you inevitably ruffle feathers. Jesus wasn’t changing things just for the sake of changing them. He was trying to make them the way they should have been from the beginning. One of the biggest changes that Jesus made was who He used. In Jesus’ day, the priesthood had changed from the lineage of Aaron, it went essentially to the highest bidder. However, we can look back into the Old Testament and see that God uses the least likely. It was never about power, influence, or control. God used who He desired for His pleasure to do His will. Unfortunately, that had been lost by the time Jesus arrives on the scene. Even more sad, is the fact that we are still operating on the wrong systems today. Who has the most influence in our society? The rich and famous. Who gets into politics and dictates policy for us? The rich do. There used to be a tv show called Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. Power, influence, and control have always gone to those who could afford it. There has never been a show called, Lifestyles of the Poor and Ordinary, has there? This is even something that has invaded churches today. Churches are often centered around a charismatic preacher or decisions are made by those who contribute the larger sums to the ministry. May we look into and listen to what the apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians church in 1 Corinthians 1:27, “But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty.”

A lot of people often talk about the church of the Laodiceans as the worst church in the New Testament. Jesus says in Revelation 3, that the Laodiceans were lukewarm. It is absolutely true that the Laodicean church had problems. Yet, I would argue that it was the Corinthian church that was the most dysfunctional in the New Testament. Sadly, I would argue that too many churches today mirror the Corinthian church. In 1 Corinthians 1, Paul calls the church out for its divisions and fighting. It was an issue of pride for the Corinthians. They felt that who taught them, who baptized them, or what spiritual gift they had made them superior to others in the church. Yet, Paul says that God hasn’t chosen the rich, the famous, the most charismatic, or the most talented. Instead, God chooses to use the least likely among us. Paul says that God does this so that no one can glory in themselves. Without using the word, Paul is telling the Corinthians that they need to be humble. James says that “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). The Corinthians had the problems they had, because it was all about them, and not about God. How do we not fall into that same trap in churches today?

  1. Value each member equally. Genesis 1:27 says that God has made us in His image. This means that every person is made in the image of God. While there are two sexes (male and female), and we each have different callings and responsibilities, we are all equally valuable in God’s eyes. Every member, regardless of how they serve, is needed and necessary for the church. Paul gets at this later in 1 Corinthians about how every one has a role to play, and as each member does their part, the body is built up.
  2. Celebrate the ordinary. We so often look for the big and the flashy. We want the biggest events that will draw the biggest crowds. However, the way that God can be seen and glorified the most is in the everyday, mundane tasks that we do to the best of our ability and all for the glory of God. It’s not about the size of a church, it is about the heart of a church.
  3. Focus on God and His glory. Jesus is the head, the church is the body Paul would say. We exist because of God. We move and function the way we do because of God. Our calling is not to have people be impressed with how good we are, but instead be impressed with how great God is.
  4. Judge ourselves. We are so quick to judge others, and point out sin in their life. Yet, we are not as quick to judge ourselves. One of the first things we need to do is to ask the Lord to point out the sin in our life. Am I being prideful? Am I doing things to get a pat on the back or to get noticed? Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11 that if we judged ourselves, God wouldn’t have to. His point is that if we examined our own lives the way we should, God wouldn’t have to discipline us for sin as much, because we would see it and confess it.

Jesus turned everything upside down, because He returned it to the way it was supposed to be. May He do it again, so that the world would again see Jesus living and moving within His church for His glory.

By His grace and for His glory,

Pastor Justin

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