The Activity Decks on the Mother Ship I Corinthians 2:1-5

It has been one of the more difficult weeks in ministry for this pastor.  It has been complicated by familial matters, which I will share at another time.  Some of you have felt sincere concerns about the church as we deal with staff vacancies, differing ideas about direction and the usual uncertainty in trying to be the church in the 21st century.  I recognize the fragility these circumstances and others create.  I thank for the many of you who work faithfully to keep the light of Christ shining from this hill in south Irving.

The challenges this week has wrought bounced me between preaching the sermon I planned and a new sermon that addresses current events.  I could make a case for either message.  I reviewed my collected notes from July from the original message and my heart said “Yes!”  This passage captures the activity of the church, which has the power to hold us together.  What Paul writes in the 2nd Corinthians defines those who go by the name Christian, and live in the house of the Jesus.  The apostle captures what happens on the activity deck; where lives are touched and changed.

Paul had difficult weeks.  Paul was forever trying to convince his own kind, the Jews, he had not forgotten them by including the Gentiles.  Paul equally had difficulty communicating to the Gentiles, simply because he was Jewish.  Paul is addressing a church he helped to establish, but he is not among those they called their teachers.  By his own admission he had to overcome a lack of eloquence and fearful emotions.

Paul overcame his challenges in verse 4 saying, “My message was not in the persuasive words of wisdom, but in the demonstration of the Spirit and of power.”  Some suggest he meant he demonstrated the power of God by miraculously changing their lives.  He did some of this, but it was only a small part of his ministry.  What Paul meant was he ministered in the character and in the name of Christ, not depending on the wisdom of his own words.  He allowed the spirit of Christ to work through him in such a way that God’s power was demonstrated as he touched people’s lives in a personal way, which is the power that changes a person’s life.

If a person only hears and never sees good news visibly portrayed they could conclude the essence of the message is a preacher talking on Sunday at 10:30 a.m.  The faith of the first disciples wasn’t completed by the teaching of Jesus.  His message was understood as he lived the story of their lives together as they traveled all the way to the foot of Christ, so they might realize how much he loved.  Their comprehension wasn’t complete until after Jesus spent forty days personally meeting their needs after the resurrection.  God’s grace didn’t come clear in hearing it, it became clear when they saw and felt his touch in their lives.

What happens on the activity deck of the Mother Ship is that people’s lives are changed as the passengers and crew lift up the message of Christ’s grace by touching a person’s woundedness and patching up a person’s brokenness.  Activity comes alive on the Mother Ship by going beyond verbal expression, to actively living it within the circle of our influence; encountering people and meeting their needs, making their faith complete.

It must have been difficult to see the potential in the people of Corinth.  They weren’t Old Covenant folk; and some practiced a morality that would make Sodom blush.  One man was living incestuously with his mother-in-law; while others recklessly fought in civil court.  Paul could’ve confronted them with righteous indignation.  But, Paul saw their potential, believing in them, so he loved on them, in the demonstration of the Spirit and of power.

I have no persuasive words of wisdom but I can speak of times when I witnessed the demonstration of the Spirit and power.  As I read over my sermon this morning, I recalled the first sermon I preached.  I was a junior in college.  My home church asked me to preach on a Sunday night.  I preached the creation story and how God saw the potential that lay in the garden.  I recalled the demonstration of the Spirit and of power on the night as I lifted up the potential of God in each person’s life.  So, asking the people of FUMC, Irving, to touch someone’s life or meet a person’s need because every child of God has potential is rooted in the core call in my life.

My first church position in southeast Dallas was driven by my fundamental call that every child of God has potential, and if I was willing to touch lives, God could change their lives.  Some of that work came to mind recently when Buddy, JD Points, stopped by the office a few months ago to ask me to officiate at his son’s wedding.  My first wedding was Buddy’s wedding.

Buddy grew up in the house across the street from the church.  Buddy’s dad was a plumber who preferred other activity than church.  I gathered up Buddy, Clay, Donald, and James from the neighborhood and met weekly with those boys, training little neighborhood terrorists as future leaders.  Buddy would grow up to learn the trade of Heating and Air Conditioning, and now owns his own company and lives on the lake in Rockwall.  He is not only a member of a church; he is their volunteer education director.  He is working to complete Doctoral studies in Christian Education in seminary.

Clay was a brick layer’s son whose father was absent.  Brick-laying was his lot in life, just like his two older brothers.  I remember him telling the group, he wanted to go to college.  We worked to get him the scholarships to go to Baylor.  He graduated with a degree in international entrepreneurial ship and took off as a missionary to the Siberia, sharing Christ while helping young adults start new businesses.  He returned to the states to finish his PhD in linguistics and is now a professor of linguistics at Baylor.  He continues to be a missionary catalyst for young adults.

I could tell of others in that group whose lives were changed we took time to meet their needs.  Let me tell you about another little boy who grew up in a two-story home and had everything his heart desired.  His parents loved and nurtured him.  However, his life was shattered when his father died.  This little boy became a confused, not understanding his father’s death.

This boy’s neighbor saw his confusion and began to touch his life and meet his needs.  In the summertime, they took him with them when they traveled the country.  He sensed their love and concern as they filled the void in his life.  However, later this young boy became a rebellious teenager.  But, this same neighbor arranged for him to get a job that changed his life.  While working at this job, this confused teenager gave his life to full time ministry.  He went on to college and seminary and now he lives in a nice house and is the pastor some of God’s special people.  He stands before you today.

Where did this begin?  It began in 1968 when a neighbor family on Ivy Drive saw a nine-year-old boy who would disappoint them and use them.  They persistently touched my life with love and met many of my needs.

We can probably think of fifty reasons why we need not go to the activity deck of the ship.  Our schedule is full, our family needs us, or we have other plans.  Those may be important and necessary things.  Don’t let your life go by without regularly coming to the activity deck of the Mother Ship, ready to touch a life or meet a need.  This is the place where God’s love is recognized; as we take time to be in relationship with persons in need.

There are thousands of children who are needy.  There are thousands of rebellious teenagers who will drive us crazy.  There are thousands of families that have more needs than we have resources.  There are thousands of adults in circumstances we prefer to not think about.  While it can be overwhelming taking care of the Mother Ship, we will never find nothing as rewarding than spending time on the activity deck of the Mother Ship where lives are changed by offering a demonstration of the Spirit and of power through touching a life or meeting a need in a personal way.

Published in: on September 30, 2012 at 2:07 pm  Leave a Comment  

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