August 4, 2013
Pastor Sean McCartin
A Glorious Mess
Glorious Gatherings or Messy Meetings
1 Corinthians 10

Big Idea: Christian Gatherings are designed to lift up Jesus Christ while also doing good to others. Scripture shows us how to celebrate Christ together in a way that will minister to society rather than mirror society.

Paul has previously addressed attitudes about individual freedoms now he speaks to them about their public gatherings. The word church means believers in Jesus who assemble together.

God wants our assemblies to be life changing for the better not for the worse. Since the earliest days of recorded history God has instructed His people to gather together, meet together regularly for growth, direction, training, worship and celebration. In the Old Testament God commands Israel to gather to celebrate with numerous Feats and Celebrations.

Now, if we are going to gather they should be great and glorious gatherings. Consistent fellowship with other believers is a central part of the overall discipleship regiment for healthy, robust, Spirit filled health and fitness.

Some people who get out of shape physically know it is time to get back in the gym. We also know that when we get out of shape spiritually it is time to get back into gathering with other believers.

But if we are going to gather and it is to be glorious rather than a mess we need the right goals. That is what Paul is attempting to clear up in the messy meetings in Corinth. Their meetings are actually doing more harm than good. These are anti-Christian Christian meetings.

Goals for a Glorious Meeting

I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the traditions just as I passed them on to you. 3 But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. 4 Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. 5 But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—it is the same as having her head shaved. 6 For if a woman does not cover her head, she might as well have her hair cut off; but if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should cover her head.

7 A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. 8 For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; 9 neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10 It is for this reason that a woman ought to have authority over her own head, because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. 12 For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God.

13 Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, 15 but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering. 16 If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice—nor do the churches of God.

Respect – Gender Differences:

Paul is going to handle a mild mess as he prepares to handle a serious mess a little bit later in the chapter. This is a potentially confusing and damaging development seeking to assert itself in this young congregation.

We can safely say in this setting hair lengths, hair presentation communicated specific messages to one another. Women are disregarding or casting aside their head coverings when they speak publically. An uncovered head was to let their hair hang loose. What is happening?

The Corinthian Christians were copying pagan practices. Pagan priestesses would let their hair hang loose and disheveled as they prophesied on behalf of their temple idols. Christian women, maybe in an attempt to exercise their new found freedom in Christ, are mirroring the temple priestesses and attempting to introduce this new custom into the church.

Paul reports this is not a practice ever duplicated in any other church and will not be in the future. It seems there were some prone or inclined to argue (contentious) which Paul addresses specifically.

A woman with loosed hair, unbound or uncovered was typically a prostitute and her hair communicated, “I am available to many men”. Hair that was bundled or bound up, covered, was to communicate marriage or attachment to one man, her husband. Some scholars suggest an actual veil, though that word is not found in the original language. If the hair was shaved that was sometimes a sign of morning, but typically a punishment for adultery.

To loose your hair, or to be uncovered would be to disregard and therefore disrespect their mutually dependent relationship with their husbands.

To correct this horizontal mess concerning gender confusion and/or disrespect he teaches what to believe vertically about gender uniqueness.

Paul uses the order of creation, the plan of mutual submission, God’s creative design, and impressions from nature as the vertical reasons for the needed horizontal changes.

Paul is seeking to put an end to women getting up and praying or prophesying in a way that embarrassed their husbands and disrespected the wonderful design of God in male/female relationships, more specifically husbands and wives. This will also put an end to mirroring practices happening down the street at the fertility cult temples organized by prostitute temple leaders.

Applications:

a. A woman today with here head uncovered figuratively is a woman who is married but doesn’t act like it. Maybe sending off signals your available when your not. Maybe treating your husband like a second-class citizen. Maybe acting more like his mom, than his wife.

Do you know the “vibe” of such a woman? Ladies you know what I mean. Actually you know more what I mean than I know what I mean.

By acknowledging your mutual submission to your husband and to respect him does not hold you back spiritually, quite the opposite, it propels you forward. Ladies when you respect one another and the men in your life it does not make you subordinate to them, or less in stature, in any way. It is proper respect.

b. As our marriage goes so goes our witness and ministries. These words from Paul are not to limit the delegated authority of God in women’s lives but to actually harness it, steward it, and ensure a continuous function in it.

Beth Moore (So Long Insecurity, You Have Been a Bad Friend to Me) and Joyce Meyer (Battlefield of the Mind) illust.

I listen and watch both Beth Moore and Joyce Meyer. I have actually read their books. I don’t just read man books.  I love these ladies. They walk in Godly authority in preaching and teaching in a very public way.

I have noticed they always talk well of their husbands and mention them often. Sometimes it is a humorous story, a tender moment or a transparent look into their private lives, but always with great respect. I think it is one of the reasons why God has given them favor and international appeal. Metaphorically their heads are definitely covered.

Let’s look at another goal for Glorious Gatherings

(vs. 17-22) “In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good. In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval. “So then, when you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, for when you are eating, some of you go ahead with your own private suppers. As a result, one person remains hungry and another gets drunk. Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God by humiliating those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? Certainly not in this matter!”

Goal #2 Resist

Partiality and Cliques or what I would call closed systems based on sociological groupings. This must be resisted strongly. The tone has shifted dramatically. The meetings are doing more harm than good. There are divisions and groupings of the have’s and have not’s.

There is a smaller dining area in the host homes and an atrium. Higher status attendees met earlier to gorge and drink in excess in the smaller dining room area, while non homeowners, the poor, the majority, would be in the atrium and not invited to partake at all, just watch. Most were humiliated and hungry which Paul says is not only mistreating the poor, but also despising the church of God. This is a church meeting that is actually despising the church as God intended it.

People are leaving these meetings in one or two ways, either drunk or embarrassed. The measure of a gathering isn’t how you came in, but how you leave. In this case it was self-incriminating. Another example of importing temple feasts that were a blend of worship and feasting. In Greek temples some people would have distinguished places to sit and were given higher quality and larger portions of food than others of a lower status in the social or economic pecking order.

This is all so contrary to the love of God and His heart for our gatherings.

There is no VIP section in the church. Well actually every seat is a VIP seat. What we can do to resist divisions is cross borders and man made boundaries. One of my most favorite verses is where Jesus had to go through Samaria.

John 4:4 “ Now he had to go through Samaria.”

No Jewish teacher would ever go through Samaria, except for our Lord. Samaria was situated between Judea and Galilee, where Jesus was from. Most Jews would travel around the eastern outskirts of Samaria to avoid contact with the Samaritans.

They were a mixed people group. They were Jews who intermarried with gentiles and adopted their pagan worship practices as well. They were despised by the orthodox Jews during that time. There is a real division existing here.

Jesus resisted sociological groupings and confronted divisions. He crossed borders. This is where we see the powerful story of the women at the well.

My mom tells me a story of my Dad in high school. He broke down discriminating groupings.

Smokers section at Elmira illust.

Let’s look at another goal:

(vs.23-26) 23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

Restore – The primacy of Jesus.

Keep the main thing, the main thing! The meeting was not representing the heart of God nor reflecting what the meeting was advertised as. This was called the Lord’s Supper. This was a supper, but not the Lord’s.

They were familiar with suppers for idols. This had the same make up. Again they are mirroring something cultural and wrapping it in a Christian wrapping, but the substance is nothing of Jesus.

The first order of business is to recalibrate back to the death of Jesus. We should always recalibrate our fellowship to the death of Jesus.

Why is the death of Jesus so important?

  • It shows us the sacrificial love of God. The sacrificial love of God should permeate all of our gatherings. We can’t lose with God’s love. God’s love is the primary recipe for glorious gatherings. You can get a lot of things wrong but if we have this right we are good.
  • It shows us that Jesus was our substitute for sin. He took our place. He is our hero, our Savior. Jesus is not a myth, or a legend, or an idea unlike the idols of 1st century Greek and Roman culture. We have as much physical evidence that Jesus walked this earth as we do George Washington walked this earth. The peculiar thing is we can’t find His body. He rose from the tomb and became the ultimate first fruit prototype of many to follow. Because we believe in Jesus we will do what he did, defeat the grave, death, hell, sin and the devil. No one else can do that. To have meetings that put Jesus on the back burner to display well to do people indulging in excess while the poor watch without participating is a mockery of the greatness, purity, victory of Jesus, by his willingness to die, on our behalf. We can not have services designed to highlight the fallen human personality or our fallen human impulses. Rick Warren, Pastor of Saddleback Church says “remember church gatherings are called a service, not a serve us.”
  • It shows us what he accomplished. He created a new body of people? Ephesians 2:15b-16 “His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.

Let’s look at a fourth goal for a Glorious Gathering

(vs. 27-30) ”So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep.”

Goal # 4. Regard –

The body of Christ highly. Paul says the reason they were participating unworthily in communion because they did not rightly discerning the body. They did not see one another as members of their own body.

One of the analogies to describe the church is a body and we are all individual members or should I say parts. We will hear about this in Chapter 12.

How many of you are thankful for all the parts of your body. How many of you recognize you really need each part. The idea is we all belong to each other, need each other and we fit together. We appreciate each member equally and we are connected to each other. If one rejoices, we all rejoice. If one suffers we all suffer.

The Corinthians were failing to recognize that each individual was a valuable member of the whole. They were operating within an individualistic mindset. Individualism is the source of conflict, the root of selfishness, the source of desensitization towards others.

Back to Beth Moore. She says in her book the pursuit of individualism is a primary source of insecurity. It is when we try to be thee person, rather than just a person.

A final goal for glorious gatherings

(vs. 31-34) “But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment. Nevertheless, when we are judged in this way by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be finally condemned with the world. So then, my brothers and sisters, when you gather to eat, you should all eat together. Anyone who is hungry should eat something at home, so that when you meet together it may not result in judgment. And when I come I will give further directions.”

#5 Receive –

Paul talks about discerning ourselves, which follows the instruction to examine yourselves. Paul is a proponent of self-testing and receiving direction and when needed correction.

Do you see a progression that is only as good as our receptivity? Direction. Correction. Discipline. Judgment. Condemnation. Condemnation is for someone who completely, their entire lives, refuses to receive anything from God. I don’t like to receive correction.

My goal is to apply the direction. My goal is to avoid discipline, so I apply the correction. I don’t want to come under judgment so I embrace the discipline. All of these are designed to avoid condemnation.

The Bible clearly says there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. But to keep us healthy and on track God will give us direction, correction, discipline and even judgment. The Corinthian church is under a judgment of God due to their abuse of the Lord’s Supper.

All of these teaching methods from God are not punitive but prescriptive. Designed to make us grow, mature and be healthy.

If you can learn the art of being teachable you will not just get through stuff but you will grow through stuff. A glorious gathering is a group of people who have soft and teachable hearts for God.

These are people who get unstuck from ruts, who bust through thresholds, who aren’t limited by their past and have the ability to change from one level of glory to the next level. Who we are publically is a reflection of who we are privately.

Paul is suggesting we can all improve the large group setting by doing some reflection and introspection in a private setting.  When I see this idea of examination I immediately think if there is anybody I am withholding forgiveness from. Am I a blockage of forgiveness and unity in the body?

It isn’t so much how perfect I have been last week, but more of allowing mercy to flow in me and through me. If I am growing outside of the meeting I am in a better position to contribute when I am in the meeting.

Respect    Resist    Restore    Regard    Receive

Psalm 122:1 “I rejoiced with those who said to me, let us go to the house of the Lord.”