The Sunday Sermon: Epiphany 4, 2016
Paul’s Better Way
Epiphany 4-C 2016
+ In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Have you ever been around someone who is able to do something that you wish you could and you couldn’t. Have you ever been around someone who was better at doing something that you like to do and wished that you could do it as well as they could. I know that when I look at musicians or even a young person who can play the piano with skill even if it’s just a little skill it’s more than I have or when I look at sometimes get a little jealous. I wonder if you ever feel that waY.
Over the last few weeks we have been reading from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians about the body of Christ. He has been talking about how one part of the body isn’t any more important then another part but all the parts need each other in order to be a complete body. We have been hearing those lessons for the last two weeks or so. And this week we have heard from probably one of the most well-known passages of the Bible first Corinthians chapter 13. This is the so-called love chapter in Paul’s letters to the Corinthians. Made famous of course because it’s her read that nearly every wedding you will ever go to. The problem with reading it at a wedding is that when we read it at a wedding we miss its context. We suppose that Paul is talking about the love that the bride and groom are experiencing for one another as they come together in holy matrimony. but in fact what we’re hearing about isn’t so much about the love that they have for one another as the love that they will need for one another going into the future.
This morning I want to talk about what love Paul is really saying or rather talking about here this morning. Because it’s not the love that a man and a woman to have for one another but rather a deeper and more profound love. And it’s the type of love that you and I need to have from one another and for one another and the only place we can really learn that love is from our heavenly father and his only son.
The Corinthian church was or rather is because Paul has left us his letters a place of notorious problems for Paul and his ministry of building the church. If you were to sit down this afternoon or this evening and read the letters to the Corinthian’s and there are two of them you may recall you would find some very wonderful and profound teaching by St. Paul but you would also find that Paul was addressing some very serious issues in the Corinthian church issues which he doesn’t seem to have to address in other churches. Or at least he didn’t have to address in writing to other churches. But these are problems that every church every parish every ecclesiastical family of God faces on a day-to-day basiS. So it’s good that Paul left us these letters to know that as we struggle to be built up into the body of Christ here in our day that the early church was not free from such struggles.
In this particular section that we have been reading Paul has been addressing a problem focused around the issue of spiritual gifts gifts that the Holy Spirit gives to the church into its members for the building up of the church. And what is happened is that it seems some members within the Corinthian church have come to see that their gifts are better than another groups or another person’s gift or individuals have looked at others and thought that the gifts which they have been given by God are somehow less important or less significant then the gifts that others have been given. Paul writes them to correct them on this error and he corrects us as well.
The first solution that he gives is by pointing out to them that every member of the body is important and every gift every talent that each one has is important to the others because the body can’t say I could do without an alarm or without an ally or the I can’t say I could do without a leg or foot. Every member contributes in someway and every gift has a value that is to be used by each individual to build up the body of Christ. That’s what we’ve been reading about the last few weeks.
Today Paul offers a second solution or rather a corollary to the first because the first and the second don’t work separately but work together. And that solution is love. He tells us that though I may speak in in tongues of men are of angels and I may have the gift of prophecy like to move mountains and the knowledge of every hidden secret but he says if we have all these things if we all have our gifts are talents and we all have these things from God but we don’t have love which binds us all together then we have nothing.
Now this love which binds us together is not the kind of love of a husband and wife standing at the altar but rather a much more profound much deeper kind of love. In the Greek there were three words which are used for love: eros, philos, agape.
Paul beckons us the this third type of love, agape. This type of love is God’s unconditional love for you and for me it’s a love that brought us our salvation is the love that brings us to himself even though we so often in our sin from him to follow our own selfish self-centered desires and ways. This is a love that never sees love that never fails I love that conquers all obstacles that come before. It’s a lot of that is hard for us to achieve impossible without God’s grace but hard enough with even that though nothing is impossible with God.
This type of love this agape love is best known when we live not for ourselves but for another just as our Lord lift not for himself indeed died not for himself but for you and for me. This is where we were at the love that God has For us and the love that he desires that we have for one another for the building up of his body at the church but we may faithfully follow him all the days of our life and call others invite others to join with us in that faith.
Is the type of love that sees and another the wonderful gifts of God the wonderful things that they contribute to the body of Christ and is thankful not jealouS.
And so today we are called by our Lord and taught by St. Paul who following the example of his Lord and yours and mine to be built up into the body of Christ to use our gifts for the building up of that body is church but he may be glorified in all maybe one is even he and the father are one.
To him be the glory now and forever. Amen.