We spoke with Lead Pastor Luke Uran this week about the current sermon series and what Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians may be saying to our church today.
We are about halfway through the series on 1 Corinthians. What has been your thinking about this letter as it applies to our church, and to the broader church?
I don’t think it’s any shock or surprise that the church today is finding itself in the midst of a crisis. In the spring I always like to go through a New Testament epistle or book. As I was praying through what the Lord would have us do this spring, 1 Corinthians just kept coming to mind over and over. I just felt the Lord saying, “This is it. This is what the church needs to hear right now.”
Whether it is division within the church, sexual immorality within the church or idols within the church — which we’ll be touching on in the next few weeks — I think those are all things prevalent in the church today that are worth addressing. But those are also things that have been part of the church since the Apostle Paul wrote this letter in 55 A.D.
Can you talk about the tendency we all have in some of these sermons to say, “Oh, that’s directed at those people?”
It’s very easy for us to say, “This is a them problem.” I believe the enemy would have us believe our own lies, and say this doesn’t pertain to me at all. “I haven’t had an affair, I don’t have division with a brother or sister in Christ,” fill in the blank. “I’m just kind of here because I feel like I should be. But this is for other people, not for me.”
I think if we approach it with that attitude, then we’ve already made up our minds that we’re not going to allow the Spirit to teach us anything — even if he is trying to. A lot of times when it comes to sermon series like this, that’s the case. We only hear what we want to hear and block out the rest when it comes to difficult topics or passages.
There’s a segment of any church right now that’s very discontent with the way things are. Some are staying away altogether. How might 1 Corinthians be speaking to people who feel that way?
I said it the first Sunday in this series. The way in which Paul addresses the church in Corinth is with grace, and with hope. Clearly Paul knows that this letter is intended to bring the church back to the importance of the truth of the gospel, and to bring the church back to grace, truth and love in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
I think that during this time now, that’s what the Lord wants to do in the hearts of his church — to say, let’s get back to the necessity of the gospel. Where there’s pride and division, Jesus paid for that. Where there’s sexual immorality, Jesus died for that. Where there’s idol worship, Jesus is greater than that. And where there are people with misunderstandings of the spiritual gifts, there’s forgiveness for that. But there’s also realignment for that.
For those who are a little frustrated right now, I would say first of all that no church is perfect. But there are times when that gets used as an excuse not to change, rather than allow the Holy Spirit to change us. I also would say that Christ will continue to prepare his bride, that the church will remain if we continue to keep the main thing the main thing. That’s Jesus Christ.
To be clear, you’re not papering over these other things. It’s not to say we just focus on Jesus and all this other stuff disappears, but it puts it in better order. Right?
Yeah. It’s the purpose behind everything. When we understand that purpose that we all have, and we’re able to see that clearly, then we understand why sexual immorality is so harmful. We understand why division and pride in the church are so harmful. We understand why the misuse of spiritual gifts is so harmful. So when we look at it in light of our purpose of bringing glory and honor to Christ as the Church, then it all makes sense.
What’s the outcome you pray for our church through this series?
My prayer is that as we see and read about this church in crisis, the Spirit would bring to light those crises that we are dealing with as individuals. And that we would know there is grace and redemption there. And that we would take the right steps to get out of those things and escape those things and surrender those things, lay them down. Because I know healthy people are the ones who, through the Spirit’s power and through the blood of Christ, make healthy churches. If we want to be a healthy church — which I believe we all do — then I think it would be wise of us to listen to the warnings that Paul gives to a different church.