Unity and Love in the Church

1 Corinthians 16:12-24

Posted by Dan Jarms on May 12, 2024
Unity and Love in the Church
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Main idea: Unity and Love for fellow Christians will mark the church that loves Jesus.

  1. Shoulder the load of missions (1 Corinthians 16:5-12).
  2. Stand firm in the faith and love (1 Corinthians 16:13-14)
  3. Subject yourself to servant leaders (1 Corinthians 16:15-18)
  4. Show fond affection for fellow Christians (1 Corinthians 16:19-24)
  • Automated Transcription
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    Well, good morning faith Bible Church. Let's stand for the reading of God's Word. We're going to finish out first Corinthians. First Corinthians chapter 16, verses 12 through 24 will be our reading we'll reach back a little bit. To set the full context here. These are the final instructions is a common practice in the ancient letter writing, you're dealing with the doctrine and the difficult parts first, and you finish with the final personal stuff. Here it is, verse 12. Now concerning our brother a palace, I strongly urged him to visit you with the other brothers, but it was not at all his will to come now. He will come when he has opportunity. Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all you do be done in love. Now, I urge you brothers, you know that the household of Stefanus were the first converts in a Kea and that they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints be subjected to such as these to every fellow worker and labor. I rejoice at the coming of Stefanus unfortunate mattes and a que ACUs because they have made up for your absence, for they refreshed my spirit as well as yours. give recognition to such people. To the churches of Asia. The churches of Asia send you greetings Aquila, and Priscilla presa. Together with the church and their house, send you hearty greetings in the Lord. All the brothers send you greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss. I Paul write this greeting with my own hand. If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed. Our Lord, come. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen. This is the word of the Lord. God our Father, we pray that you would put these words into our hearts by your spirit. Mark them into us, help us learn them and put them into practice. Father, I see here the greetings from all the churches and you know our heart as a church is for the churches in our region and for the missionaries that we support in other lands. And I pray that you would be working powerfully I pray for Kerry Hughes, at Christ the Redeemer and I pray for Colin Skipper at Southside Christian. These among many pastors who are seeking to be faithful and their congregation seeking to be faithful hearers and doers of the word. empower them so that the gospel is proclaimed loudly, salvation happens, many are saved and the churches are strengthened help ours be that as well bind these words on our hearts as we leave this letter, learning grand lessons from the whole book and from even these final instructions in Jesus name, amen. You may be seated. So my daughter Brenda is a bit of a travel expert. When when we have been trying to decide what to see and where to go. In London. Her repeated number one piece of advice is look at the reviews. If they don't have any reviews, it's probably not any good. If they have good reviews, then you're probably going to have a better opportunity for a really enjoyable meal or experience. The reviews on the church in Corinth were bad reviews. As a one star church in every category. There were factions and competition over who was the best apostle to follow. Many were embarrassed to stand up against the local philosophers because of the so called weakness of A crucified Messiah. There were some who were still caught up in the rampant immorality and idolatry of Corinth mean there was a word across the Greco Roman world for immoral people. They correct they were the Corinthian ized like to be immoral was to Corinthian as it was like a name for immoral people. That's the reputation that was still all too prevalent in the church. There were economic class divisions in court rents and those economic class divisions flowed right into the church. Church services were chaotic. They were chaotic competitions for attention and power. There were some who were skeptical even of a resurrection from the dead core. Teaching essential to Christianity was being compromised in the 10th testimony of the church was an embarrassment. So one star church, Paul spends 15 chapters dealing with the issues behind the bad reviews. What needs to be noted is that it was still a church, Jesus shed his blood for it was still a church, given wonderful grace. It was a church that had many men and women eager to please God had had a number of faithful leaders, Paul's going to list them out in the middle of our section. So in the last chapter, Paul gives a series of final instructions that would put those corrections into effect. And another way to say it, they would be the evidence these things were carried out, they would be the evidence that the internal issues are taken care of, that the underlying issues had been addressed. And the major themes that Paul deals with in this public testimony of the church are the same as Jesus taught in the Gospel of John, we have adopted the loving community making disciples of Jesus Christ as our theme, our vision mission statement, so to speak, because Jesus gave us really clear statements John 14, he says, they will know you are my disciples, if you love one another. John 17, Jesus said, they will know you are disciple my disciples if you are unified. Paul's words fit right down those same channels. If you've been authentically impacted by the truth of Jesus Christ, you will be marked by unity and love. The Bible Church these are such fitting instructions for us. If we really love Jesus, His scripture his gospel, it will show in our unity and our love, I want to say as as a way of commendation and encouragement, I'm sitting with a bunch of pastors talking to pastors from all over the region at a workshop that I was at this week. And instead of been going through First Corinthians and the one challenge has been there's nobody's getting drunk at our communion. I mean, you can't it's a it's a little tiny cup of grape juice. We don't even give you the opportunity. But I mean, we don't have that kind of stuff going on. There's, there's, as you walk through it, the kind of stuff that was going on in Corinth isn't really happening here. However, all of the answers for godly pursuit of Christ centered church are here. And I want to commend you, that we need to keep pressing on. Try to summarize the big idea by the expressions of unity and love, it'd be this unity and love for fellow Christians will mark the church that loves Jesus. You know, the whole series has been titled marked by the gospel, this is going to be the kind of instruction that if you and I carry it out, will show us as marked by the gospel by the love of God through Christ. The final instructions ensure that the church does in action, what it has in position in Christ, you're saved. In position, you're united with Christ, and so you have Christ's righteousness, you have salvation, you have been washed clean there, there are these things that you have in position. These kinds of things ensure that you do an action what you have in position. I can think of two areas that make a profound influence as a testimony to an unbelieving world and as an encouragement to Christians who have not yet connected to church. The number one issue social issue in a social media age, according to all the pundits about this is so ironic, it's it's the feeling of isolation and loneliness. We're more socially connected through social media than ever before. And the claims for secular mental health workers is that we are more lonely. And we are more anxious than ever. Because we weren't made for screens we were made for faces, real faces.

    So there's a lack of authentically caring real externships I mean, do you want to be different at Faith Bible Church? But do you want this to be a different kind of place? This, this church can be a refuge for those who are starving for authentically caring relationships? Are you a visitor hungry, hungry for those kinds of this is, this is a place for you? I can get you connected to 10 relationships and five minutes, well, maybe I'll take a little longer than that to email all the people. But like they're here, people are so welcoming and eager. Jesus welcomes all who humbly come, and we as Christ followers, welcome all, who humbly come. The second issue most talked about is as far as his observations about American culture is the polarization and division of the American people are Is this a polarized culture? I mean, hardly ever more in my memory, the pandemic was polarizing Black Lives Matter movement was polarizing. Our politics are polarizing. And now we have this elite Israeli Palestinian issue that's polarizing and divisive. And you've got to ask yourself, is there a place for refuge? Is there a place for refuge? Is there a place where love and community rise above politics, government and power? And the answer is yes, there is. It's in a local church, who has let the good news of the gospel sink in because believers in Christ live for the coming of Christ and His reign. They don't live for a subpar earthly reign with a mere Christian influence. They live and serve fueled by love by the love of Christ. I think this the stakes of this passage are enormous. The importance of this passage are enormous because they can help us put into practice the things that help Christianity be believable. There's the truth of Christ. But then there are the other things that Christ says this is what testifies to it, it makes it believable. You say you believe the truth? So can we be a trusted messenger of Christ's saving work? Our testimony depends on it. Testimony, it depends on it. So Paul's gonna give us four themes through this. Through these greetings, these plans, other things that are going on, and they're they're all going to be visible demonstrations of unity and love. If you're gripped by the gospel, these are going to be the kinds of things that demonstrate the unity and love of the church. So let's let's take a look at a number of them. She knows me really well. Slight cough. Here comes the water. Thank you. First of all, shoulder the load of missions, shoulder the load of missions. It's an interesting thing to say in this the middle of this discussion about unity and love. But, but here's how to say it positively. You can't help but being unified and loving when you share a common mission. The common mission and most compelling mission is proclaiming the saving work of Jesus Christ. If we look just ahead of what I read, part of the previous section about Paul's visit the contribution, sending Timothy to represent him. Look what it says in verse 10. When Timothy comes, see that you put him at ease among you, for he is doing the work of the Lord as I am. So Let no one despise him help him on his way and peace that he may return to me for I am expecting him with the brothers. Paul's Paul's in the middle of missionary work. He's doing the work of the Lord missionary work but his missionary work is proclaiming the gospel to the last seeing them gathered into local churches, seeing them equipped to be mature and strengthened in those churches to multiply and make more churches. That's what a missionary does. All Christians are part of that at some level or another. Now Paul encourages the shouldering of load in one way that's not surprising. The not surprising one is in verse 11. Help him on his way, help him on his way. He said that when he comes to visit, he's going to ask the Corinthians to help him on his way and that was a that was a request for financial help to for the missions work and for the practical help of of helping him travel. We're not really surprised about that. You do such a good job at that as a church. We're launching the ratios Lord willing In July, the militants and just a couple of weeks milkins are going to Czech Republic ratios are going to pop on your Guinea. We're receiving back for a time of refreshment and furlough, the clerks, the clerks are going to be staying for a couple of months out of that time at our house, our house is empty. Hopefully that's a blessing to them, we're gonna want to help them in practical, there's gonna be practical needs all kinds of needs. That's something you really excel at. And I want to encourage you, here's here's a surprise thing, though. The surprise thing is the other things that are here. When Timothy comes, see that you put him at ease among you. And if you look at the three commands, put them at ease, Let no one despise you and help him on his way. Those two are like what's going on? And it does require a little understanding of what's going on in the passage. If you were here at the beginning of the letter, there were people in the church who decided to make a kind of political party within the church behind their favorite celebrity pastor or apostle. They would actually have things where they would identify them within the church. I'm of Paul, I'm of apologists, I'm obsequious. Paul apologists and Cifas. Peter, they were all appalled by this they were horrified because they're all of the Lord. And yet there was this fractiousness. Timothy is going to show up from Paul. And you notice there's this phrase put him at ease. Let no one despise him. Well, the Apollo's faction, and the safest faction would see Timothy coming from Paul and go, he's not our guy. Already, they're hostile to whatever he's got to say. The Apollo's party's got theirs and see if his party's got theirs. They have an agenda. They're looking for power control. He's associated with the wrong guy. put him at ease. And here's why. To put him at ease. He is doing the work of the Lord as I am. What's the work of the Lord, proclaiming the gospel, serving the church strengthening, strengthening it and causing it to multiply into other churches. That's what he's doing. That's that's a work all of us need to rally behind.

    I think in our own context, the springs faith and five initiative with your growth group and we get the chance to invite kids go out invite kids to VBS we get the chance to help the neighbors at the at the outreach this week. why would why does this matter? Why Why is Paul talking about this, let's insert an illustration that you might understand. One of the most important things for you as a parent, if you're married, for you to do for your kids, is to as a couple, center your life on Christ. And work your stuff out Hume humbly in a godly way and grow so that your marriage is stable. So that your kids have a stable place, so that they can hear about Jesus. And they can deal with the stuff in their life with their friends and their growing mission and their understanding. Like you get it that the first gift a parent needs to give their kids is a really healthy marriage. So it is in the church. How many missionaries have had to come off to the field to us church that's splitting. Man what a hard thing. Or there's there's a series of facts as well that missionary is this and you know, he's associated with so and so I mean, in my world, where, where out of my training. So often the refrain is whenever you hear somebody teach or preach anything, unless it's from my seminary, well, that guy doesn't believe this or this church doesn't believe that. You know, you can't quote Tim Keller and a sermon because Tim Keller quoted NT, right and NT, right. Is, is a liberal, and so we can't quote a guy who quoted a guy. And you know, of course, people want to play that game on that side. But you'd have to apply the same thing to John MacArthur as well. You can't quote John MacArthur, who was my seminary President, my boss for even a while because he quoted William Barclay and William Barclay is a Universalist. So we can't accept you because you're associated, who's associated who's associated with him? is associated with. It's not very different from what's going on here in this passage. What Paul saying he needs to do take him on the basis of what he preaches. Is it the truth? Is he doing the Lord's work and he's doing what the Lord's truth, then put him at ease make it easy on him. I don't expect you to make it hard on Ian who starts off our series enrollments next week. But you could make it easy for him. In and Brian and Josh are gonna share in Romans, Nathan, who was Oh as this rugged individualist is gonna give us an Old Testament book and Zephaniah. I'm so excited about what they're going to be preaching while we're gone. Make it easy on them. Let no one hears this, Let no one despise him. Don't let anyone disregard Timothy's work because he's doing the Lord's work. Sure, Timothy needs to preach the truth of Scripture. He needs to equip with a scripture Yes. But evaluate him on that. Not on his associations. This case, yeah, he's associated with Paul. That's good, actually. It's good. Shoulder the load of missions, by practical help and by pursuing unity. Remember to stand firm in the faith stand firm in the faith and in love, truth and love are always going to be the mainstay mainstay for unity and a local church. You can't have a unified local church without truth and love. So you have to have those things and they're going to produce the strongest expressions of community. Paul wanted a policy to go. He goes to a policy and he urges him. He says, I strongly urge him to visit a palace had other priorities and said, Paul, I'd love to go I can't right now. As soon as I have opportunity to I'm going to go. Well, Paul was hoping because a palace was mature was able that a policy could correct the divisions in the church. He'd add his weight of authority to it. But with a policy not available, he gives them a lieutenants set of orders. There's five things here notice that Be watchful stand firm in the faith, act like men be strong, that all that you do be done in love. Five quick commands starting with Be watchful. The first four are like warriors commands their soldiers commands the lieutenants in battle. Carrying out the general King Jesus mission, he starts with Be watchful, it occurs 23 times and it always refers to paying attention for attacks and dangers. You have a world that has been in rebellion against God who wants you to compromise you have an adversary and the devil who wants to tempt you by your pride by your flesh, by your love for this world instead of the world to come. You have a sorted temptations need to be on watch. If we just took an applied the book. Be watchful against picking a favorite preacher. Be watchful for picking a favorite writer. Be watchful, for picking a favorite Christian celebrity and staking your party claim behind them. Doesn't mean you can't learn from all kinds of people. Be watchful for the influence of sexual immorality, we have to say that a lot our culture Be watchful for the cultural idols. The three great cultural idols today, the four great cultural idols of today are governmental power. I mean, it sickens me how Christians are running to the savior of governmental power, thinking that it's going to change everything for them.

    Wealth remains an idle self expression remains an idle personal autonomy remains an idol. For us, you have to be watchful for these influences. We could list out that whole set of things that the apostle corrected in the book. So we should be watching for these things, even if they're not existing in our in our culture today, or in our church culture with the moment they are creeping in all the time. Number two, stand firm in the faith be watchful stand firm in the faith. The Stand firm language is as again borrowed from battlefield as well my An archeology expert. My wife pointed out this from some of her studies this week. So she's a good Bible student, Roman soldiers. Remember, in the Roman era, you, you marched information tightly packed together with either swords or spears. And if you are going to engage the enemy, they're coming at you and you need to have good footing. Before battle, Romans frequently took nails and drove them through the bottom soles of their shoes so that in battle, they would have grip. You need to be able to hold your ground, there's an onslaught of things coming at you and you need to be able to hold your ground you need to stand firm, good footing. And then here's what you're holding firm in the faith, the faith. Whenever you see the faith, not just faith, faith could be faithfulness. When you see the faith that was a title for the core apostolic doctrine, that the teaching about Jesus as it fits into God's plan for saving. The faith included Jesus, condescension, his humility by his incarnation, the faith included His perfect life of obedience, his loving ministry and his miracles. It included him going to the cross as the substitute for our sins and includes his to his death, and it includes his resurrection. It includes his instruction of his teaching after the resurrection and his ascension where he now rains, it includes the fact that he is going to return in the clouds with glory, to take his Earth back. Like that's the faith. That's the core of the faith stand firm in the faith as it's revealed in Scripture.

    He'd stand firm, against a lot of things in you and from without. within you, you have to stand firm against the idea that earthly freedom. That pleasure is ultimate. You have to stand firm against the idea that we can contribute anything to our salvation. We had a wonderful gospel opportunity, a couple of Sunday nights ago. Young Man's soundly exposed to gospel truths, but he still thinks like a Catholic. Like there's just one thing I need to add to this to make sure I make it. Like I get it. I was Catholic, I got saved. Other Catholic Church. They always got to, like there's internal pressures, external pressures. Gotta stand firm in the faith, that which is revealed. So there's truth. There's scripture. 30 says act like men act like men. Yes, it's Mother's Day, Happy Mother's Day. Act like men, women, act like men. seems a little odd to say this here. Maybe on Mother's Day. But but think of it this way. It was a really common expression for being courageous. Some translations just jump to the interpretation. They just say, Be courageous. Be courageous. And again, think of the battlefield. You're advancing, the enemy comes, you've got to stand firm, and you could die. If that was true, there are people died for their faith. Those early years and successive times have done so. Or been jailed for it or been canceled for it or, or whatever it is. What's really important to think about courage. Courage is not the absence of fear. It is the presence of obedience, in the face of fear. Courage isn't a lack of fear. It's the presence of obedience in the face of fear. Doing what Jesus says to do. Even though it could be really costly. Act like men. Be courageous. Mom's Mother's Day act like men. Be courageous. There are so many manly women at Faith Bible Church. When it comes to this quality, so many girls rageous women, that's gonna go on a meme. Set, please don't post that like that, that could be taken out of context

    be strong number four. I mean, you you just you just see the church arrayed as a military unit into battle here. Not armed with sword or spear, but with the gospel and a life to lay down for King Jesus. Be strong, more literally, the Greek verb form be strengthened, which is an interesting way to be strong gets the ideas like come on, five more push ups. Come on, do more. Work harder, which is Paul's actually saying to do all of that. But he's he's pointing out something that's significant for us be strengthened. Because being watchful and staying awake takes the grace of God being firm in your convictions takes the grace of God. Being courageous takes the grace of God. So all of those things, take God's aid and God's help and what is he saying be strengthened, there's three ways you are strengthened to do the first three. One is by submitting yourself and feasting on the scriptures. My number one concern Oh is about summer, when small group stops meeting is that you don't have the accountability to read your Bible. You're not to show up with questions answered anywhere. So I just was pleased. Please read your Bible with a friend, find a friend. Make a goal do something but you're strengthened by the scriptures. You're strengthened, obviously, by prayer, going to God asking for help. And by committing to prayer for other people. And you're strengthened by gathering together you encourage one another to keep going as long as it is called today. Currently, Hebrews three be strengthened. And then he wraps it up with a really important phrase. And I mean, wrap it up like a burrito, wrap it up like a lettuce wrap, wrap it up, like Kevlar bulletproof vests. Let all that you do be done in love. That all that you do be done in love. The first four without the fifth was the great error of the Ephesian church in Revelation chapter two. You have lost your first lob commendation, you hold fast the truth, commendation, you correct error, commendation, you stand against threats, but I have this against you, you have lost your first love, and what it looked like as a loss. Remember how John thinks of it. John wrote that also wrote first, second and third John, if you don't love God, you won't love people. If you don't love people, you don't love God, he's gonna be really strong about it at the end. I mean, it's really striking I, I heard one of our speakers say to this, I was in his workshop group. He said, You know, God shuts the doors of churches that abandoned teaching His truth. But he also shuts the doors of churches that teaches truth, but don't have love both of them grossly misrepresent him. Ouch. So if you don't love your misrepresent Jesus just as badly if you don't speak the truth, he will shut those churches down. So Paul says, Let all that you do be done in love. What is that? Remember faith Bible Church, we have this definition. We tried to say over and over. Love is thinking and doing what is best for another, regardless of the cost to yourself. That's Biblical love. It's the way Jesus loved us. thinking and acting for the Best of others, regardless of the cost to yourself that's what a church marked by the gospel looks like its shoulders, the load of missions, it's consumed with the Lord's work. It stands firm in the faith holds doctrine faithfully, it seeks to do everything in love. Third, he says, subject yourself to servant leaders, God's given stewardship to gifted and qualified lead servant leaders, for the flourishing of the church for the advancement of His Kingdom. In his work, verse 15, he says, Now I urge you brothers, you know that the household of Stephanus were the first converts in a Kea, and that they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints that were devoted, just like devoted to the word and devoted to prayer and Acts chapter two is a person a person's disciplined passions and affections devoted to them. They devoted themselves to the service of the saints what they wanted in, in Corinth, that's what he's talking about. Stephanus he has devoted his life to your service, he's a leader in current be subjected to such as these and to every fellow worker and labor. See, leadership in the New Testament is not a means for identity. But it's for the purpose of facilitating God's people to do their God given work. Be biblical leadership is not concerned with rank you notice it because he says to every fellow worker, that's what he called himself in chapter four. I am your fellow worker Corinthians. Yes, I'm an apostle, given a leadership role by Jesus for the good order of the church and the advancement of the gospel. But I'm a fellow worker, I have a role, but I don't have an identity that is superior.

    What does he say? be subject to such as the subject yourself, obey them. He has another set to this to Stefanus he has a couple of Zeb rejoice at the coming of Stefanus for tinnitus and the CAIC is because they have made up for your absence, these went to visit Paul, he's in emphasis doing his work. And they they brought some kind of help and aid to him some kind of encouragement. They made up for your absence and saying that you could not be here to help me. But these people came and helped me and encouraged me as if it was you. For safety, they refreshed my spirit as well as yours like you know them. You know when when you are weary and tired of battling against your own sin, your own temptations, the world around you and really difficult circumstances that you live under. You want a person who is like that much needed drink of water that much needed food to refresh you. This is what they were give recognition to such people. Notice them for that. Something about these three brought joy, rest and comfort to the people that are around I mean, that's Isn't that what you want to be. I want to come to church to be a source of joy, rest and comfort to people who are weary, in whatever circumstances their life is in. They refreshed me they refreshed you these are the kinds of leaders you should recognize. The writer to Hebrews writes a similar kind of thing in a way that helps us understand Hebrews 1317 says obey your leaders and submit to them. For they are keeping watch over your souls as those who will have to give an account I recently heard a story stand up a story about a pastor stood up in front of the congregation and thanked God for the size of his congregation for he was not able to handle more people faithfully little tiny church you know 75 People God you have given me all that I can handle thank you because it was really wasn't about how big it was is he's recognizing I'm held an account here. Let them do this with joy. This is Hebrews 13 Seven, let them do this with joy and not with groaning for that would be of no advantage to you. I mean, it's the difference with pastor I got a bone to pick with you. This is going to be pleasant. I was counting on one of these today because I need humility. Pastor I got a bow Want to pick with you? All right, I said something that I have not done or you wished I would do your wish the church would do or I said something that offended you and here's the bone. Think about this difference. Hey, Pastor, could you help me understand something? I am certainly prone to miss speaking, Miss emphasizing. And so, patient correction is always needed. Let them do this with joy, not with groaning for that would be of no advantage. And so I'm away for just a short sabbatical period. But I want to tell you, I have such a privilege to serve with Walt and Brian Wright bowl and Dennis Doherty and Tom Duden Hoffer and I'm, I better not go through all of this because I'm gonna miss some guys that are really faithful. These men if I were to say the number one quality about them is that they are servants of Christ, so that they can be servants for you. They're your servants. They've been given a charge and they want to serve you and care for you and love you. You know, retired Walt, just as serving so in fact, I'm like, well, it's here again today like didn't you retire? Because you're here all the time now. Twitch he told me he's like I could stay away more if you want me to know. Please come sir. Subject yourselves to them. Finally, show fond affection for fellow Christians. The doing everything in love, which I think is the apex of the whole section like it ties the whole section together. Not only its immediate, but the whole umbrella. Doing everything in love applies to our personal interactions as well and our personal interactions with other churches applies here faith Bible Church with the each other at applies to other churches in our, in our world, you're gonna you're gonna see why just look at verse 19, through 21. I'm going to read this, like it isn't in Greek, to see to tell you how important this was to Paul, this was so important to Paul. Paul front loads the word greeting into every sentence. That's, that's how you sort of pound the pulpit when you're writing in Greek as you frontload something, want to make emphasis you put it up front. So greetings to you. The churches of Asia send hearty greetings in the Lord to you, Aquila, and Priscilla, together with the church in their house send greetings. All the brothers send you greet one another with a holy kiss. Greet with my own hand. I write I Paul right this greeting my own hand. Why would he front with us first assess what the question was greeting is greeting is is to give cordial, fond, respectful welcome. It's full of these words cordial, fondness, respectful. It was a word that was often at the end of time with someone you kind of say like aloha is HelloGoodbye in Hawaiian. You could use it both of those ways. But I think the the phrase greet one another with a holy kiss gives us a really great version of it. Which I know you're wondering, are we going to start holy kisses? Butterfly kisses, maybe for those of you from the 80s and 90s. Now that'd be awkward to it's all lose is a cultural expression of affection. But let's let's play it out because I want you to see how significant this this idea was. A greeting was an offer of intimate personal connection. It was I see you I value you. I want an open heart with you and you'd have an open heart with me. It is vulnerable it is transparent. And with that holy kiss you could you could picture it. Very often Ancient Near East you would like France today if you're new somebody you greet them and you you'd give a peck on each cheek. That was that was a greeting. What does that signify? It signifies vulnerability. I'm letting you in close By letting you in close, and that visual idea of letting you in close this, I'm going to let you in close not just to my proximity but to my heart that got taken advantage of story in Second Samuel, where Joab goes to the opposing general after the truce is signed, brings him close, grabs him by the beard and shoves a sword in his stomach like it was a horror like he abused, that open greeting. Judas abused the open greeting that intimate greeting by betraying Jesus with a kiss, you're gonna know it's him because I'm gonna kiss him. But it was a sign of open intimacy closeness.

    Here's why it's so important to New Testament church. It's almost unimaginable to think about it if you're not a Christian, it was one of the great offenses non Christians had with Christians. Because, let's say Stephanus, owned a house big enough for the church to meet in, he might do some renovation, he might expand it so the church could meet more people as common across the archaeology of the ancient world. Stephanus then would have been an upper class nobleman with means and a slave walks into the church. And he leans in that would never, ever, ever happen with anybody less than equals, or who was not family. And that that was the sign that you and I are equal. We're brothers in Christ were part of the family of God. So the social strata of Corinth is obliterated by the holy kiss. There's, there's no division, there's no upper lower, better or worse. We are all family together, I open my heart to you. I am vulnerable to you to your love your correction, you're open to me to my love and correction. It is a powerful statement. Greetings are essential in the life of the church. You might not be you might be a fist bump greeter you might be you might be a big hug greeter whereas my brother's got to have a hug. Could you just grow like four inches, which just helped me a little bit? Like, stand on the chair? Scott because he's and that's that's how it's that's who he is. Like, he just is gonna I'm gonna share everything with you. You're gonna share everything with me. We're brothers. See why that's so important in the church. It's so anti American. And we've been noticing this. It's an anti American thing. When Linda was telling me a story, she's going through some store and somebody just yells at the clerk going by dirt. Where's the dirt? Well, hello. It's nice to see you today. That's just what we do in America turn. I need dirt. Show me dirt. Hello. It's nice to talk to you today like but that's Americans like they don't even they don't do any greetings. Like they just like I want the dirt. This could be a radically different place with genuine affection. When somebody walks in the door. You say I value you. You're here. I'm so glad. If you're brand new and let me show you where to go. Aren't we gonna open our heart to you we hope you will open your heart to us. We are welcome here from the visitor to the tender weekend and week out this is absolutely essential. He he wants to make such a point of it in verse 22. He he adds this statement that feels like jarring in the section if anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed. He's not really talking about non Christians outside of the church. Although that's true, if they reject God is their Creator and Jesus as their Savior, they're going to be accursed. He's talking like he talked in Galatia where there were people who were so called parts of the church. But what they were sharing was so wrong and dangerous. He had to say, look, if you don't agree with what I'm saying you're going to be doubly damned. He is trying to be really earnest about this idea of affection, that love of love that's in the whole section if you have no love for the Lord, which is evidenced by your love for the commune Unity, let you be accursed, your sign of love, your affection is going to be evidence whether you love Jesus or not.

    This is so what's all of this going to need to be strengthened but as his final benediction, the grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. My love be with you all, in Christ Jesus.

    Notice that all the churches are involved, the churches in Asia, the local churches, there's no competition among churches that are committed to the faith, and love, there's no competition. We're all in the same game. We're all in the same mission. We're all doing the same thing. You know, we pray for other churches, other churches pray for us as part of this distinct pleasure of this particular pastors fellowship I have. This week, Linda had to do a surprise. doctor's visit. We had to come home early from the conference. So she go to the doctor's visit, she meets the doctor who she's never met before. And the first question he asked us, so do you know Dan Jarms? She's probably like, why? I probably would question I would ask, Why do you want to know there's good or bad? No, she says, yeah, he's my husband. And he said, we pray for him at our church. Often.

    He goes to Grace Christian Fellowship up north. And there's a rotation just like we have a rotation of pastors we pray for, we get prayed for, I get prayed for. What kind of rating do churches get? who stand firm in the faith? genuinely love each other? And show fond of affection upon affection? I mean, that's a five star rating. Is that pleases Jesus. And that's a testimony if you don't know Jesus, if you don't yet follow him. Just hang out with us. Talk, let us talk to you about the gospel. But you can test us by our love. You can test us, you can say is it really real? I'll find out. And if we don't love you, we don't show personal concern and care for your eternal soul. Doesn't mean we won't say things you don't want to hear. That's not the point. We're gonna love you. But if it doesn't show that we love you, walk away. It's okay. But I know what will happen. You're gonna get 20 invitations to a growth group. You're gonna do all kinds of things. Let's pray that God would make that true that he would give us His grace to be that kind of a church. Father, thank you for the work that you're doing at Faith Bible Church. We will never have a five star rating because we are woefully people. We still have a lot of sin, selfishness growth to do. So what Paul praise is what we need. We need your grace. We need your grace, to love to stay on mission to be unified. To show affection. We need your grace. Give it to us in abundance in Christ's name, Amen.

Dan Jarms

Dr. Dan Jarms is teaching pastor and team leader at Faith Bible Church in Spokane Washington, as well as associate dean at TMS Spokane. He has been married for over 30 years to Linda, and has three adult children. He earned his B.A. in English at the Master’s College, B.Ed. at Eastern Washington University, M.Div and D.Min in Expository Preaching at The Master’s Seminary. His other interests include NCAA basketball, gardening, brick oven cooking.

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