My adult children still laugh and tease me about it,
but when my wife and I were raising them as
teenagers, I would often need to remind them that
“Adulthood is this direction!” I did so because
sometimes teenagers regress and act childish.
Occasionally, we parents need to remind them, “Let’s
keep growing here. Let’s not go backwards.”
The same could be said of the book of I Corinthians.
The Apostle Paul watched a church become a messy
ministry and writes them a letter calling them to
grow up. “Adulthood is this direction, people!”
Now, no church is perfect! But wow, the early church
of Corinth was about as dysfunctional as any church
could be. It was marked with numerous difficulties,
divisions, immature and carnal people,
controversies, skepticism, and sin. However,
God still had a big heart for them, and Paul
certainly wanted to see them mature in a way that
would thrill the heart of God. Paul believed as
messy as this ministry may have become, they could
still be the church God dreamed of.
How does a messy ministry move toward maturity? Keep
ringing the bell for purity. Keep ringing the bell
for unity. Keep ringing the bell for God’s truth.
Remind the people not to regress. After all,
“adulthood is this direction.”
I don’t remember what year it was when I watched a
TV airing of an old WWII movie titled The Dirty
Dozen, but I do remember it was with my father, and
we enjoyed it together. It is a film about an
unusual top secret, pre-invasion, mission against
the Nazi’s. The idea was to gather a small band of
the Army's worst ex-soldier convicts, those awaiting
court marshals, and turn them into an elite fighting
commando team. Those felons who survived would have
their sentences reduced and returned to active duty.
The only problem was these soldiers had a hard time
banding together. For the first half of the movie,
they were at each other’s throats. They squabbled.
They backbit. They pushed each other around and
threw a few punches. They distrusted each other's
motives. As a result, they failed to see the best
results. It takes a lot to get these men to
finally start working together smoothly, but it does
happen. Eventually, they are sent on their mission,
and with some major hiccups and the mission nearly
being sabotaged, they get their act together and
great things are accomplished.
The funny thing is, that pretty much could
describe God's plan for His church. And,
unfortunately, the first half of The Dirty Dozen
pretty much describes the way it often works out for
churches. It certainly describes the way the church
was functioning (or malfunctioning) in Corinth.
However, we can learn from their messy church.
Our winter sermon series is going to take us verse
by verse through the book of I Corinthians. We’re
going to look at what messy church is today and how
we can move ourselves toward spiritual adulthood and
God gave us this material for a reason. He wants the
church to learn and grow from the
experiences of the Corinth church. Starting in
January and continuing through Easter,
we will dive deeply into the book of I Corinthians.
Come join us!
[Ron Otto, preaching minister
Lincoln Christian Church]