To read this sermon from The Rev. Dr. David A. Marcus, Jr. click on “Continue reading” below.
Message based on 1 Corinthians 1:10-18
The story is told of the late Rev. Dr. Louie Newton, the former leader of the Southern Baptist Convention who used to answer all correspondence by a hand written letter. One night just before his retirement he wrote two letters. One letter was to a quarreling church in danger of splitting and it contained extensive and specific instructions as to what to do about the division. The other letter was to a farmhand who worked on his land who was seeking some input and advice on how to control an uncooperative bull. His message in that letter was simply the following, “Close the gate and keep the bull out of the pasture.” Unfortunately Dr. Newton placed the letters in the wrong envelopes. When the farmhand received the letter intended for the church needless to say it created some confusion. You can only imagine the reaction when his letter meant for the farmhand was read in a very tense church meeting. The members of the church read the single sentence, “Close the gate and keep the bull out of the pasture” were infuriated that was all the help they received. Then someone in the crowd stood up and tried to interpret the letter in a more positive light. They implied that maybe the bull that Dr. Newton was referring to was the devil and that they had been allowing the devil to become more a part of their fellowship. The person concluded their remarks with the following, “Now its high time we kept him out of this pasture so that this flock can be one in Christ again.” This letter actually worked, the process of reconciliation began as they strived hard to allow Christ to control the pasture of their congregation and keep the evil intentions of Satan out.
Paul also wrote a letter to the church in Corinth and that group received the right letter. Paul supplied some clear principles on how unity could be established. Unity is maintained when the church decides to strive for unity. It was apparent that the believers in Corinth did not place unity as a top priority. Paul’s words encouraged them to work for unity. Unity is also maintained when our Lord Jesus Christ is exalted. Sometimes churches are unified because people work together on a project. Sometimes warm feelings are generated when we share fellowship with one another. Other times groups join together because they have a common goal our purpose. While these forms of unity are important, Paul stressed that none were more important them people affirming their unity in Christ. Unity is also maintained when we are of the same mind. This does not mean that we have a cookie cutter mentality in that we are expected to look, act or be the same. Paul after all spoke often about different gifts and different members of the Body of Christ. In this passage Paul believe that Christians could be of the same mind in relationship to Christ. We are all called to give Christ our best in relationship to our actions, words and intentions.
As we strive to give God our best, today we remember that churches all over the world today, are celebrating Holy Communion. Today we remember that this is a sacrament to share, a sacrament to treasure, and through the sacrament we are assured the riches of God’s grace and forgiveness. Let us come to the Lord’s Table pledging our loyalty and unity to serving the Kingdom of God.
The Rev. Dr. David A. Marcus, Jr.
October 1, 2017