Sermon – July 20, 2014

Community - Letters to the Church in CorinthOvercoming Temptation,” by Rev. Peter von Herrmann
Sermon Series: Community – Letters to the Church in Corinth

I never really liked the phrase “running with the wrong crowd.” It always seemed a little presumptuous to assume that, if I chose to hang out with people who were a little “rough around the edges,” I would somehow stop being myself. I’d like to think that, regardless of where I am and what I do, who I am will not change.

Despite my uneasiness, there is definite truth in the saying. What we do shapes who we are, how we see the world, and how we see God. Our experiences always shape who we are. Therefore, which “crowd” we run with makes a difference in who we are, and who we become.

We acknowledge the importance of experience in the Methodist tradition in what we call the “Wesleyan quadrilateral.” The quadrilateral observes that what we believe about God is shaped by our tradition, by our experience, by our reason, and most of all by scripture. Experience has a part to play in how we see the world, and how we see God.

When we experience new things we are able to gain a broader perspective through which to see the world, and to see God. Those experiences and that perspective will come whether we have “good” experiences or “bad” experiences. We can, however, see something more clearly if we intentionally move toward it rather than away from it.

In today’s text, Paul challenges the Corinthians to seek experiences of worship that bound them to God, rather than those that did not. Their participation in cultic practices they knew to be meaningless wasn’t necessarily sinful, but it created experiences and bonds that could easily lead them away from God. Why, Paul asks, spend time with the “wrong” crowd when you don’t have to?
As often as you can, Paul says, join God’s people in worship and remembrance of what God has done for us. Common experiences like communion and worship bind us to each other and to God. May we be bound to each other and to Jesus Christ during our worship this morning.

—Rev. Peter von Herrmann

The Word

1 Corinthians 10:9-22

We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did, and were destroyed by serpents. And do not complain as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. These things happened to them to serve as an example, and they were written down to instruct us, on whom the ends of the ages have come. So if you think you are standing, watch out that you do not fall. No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.

Therefore, my dear friends, flee from the worship of idols. I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. Consider the people of Israel; are not those who eat the sacrifices partners in the altar? What do I imply then? That food sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be partners with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. Or are we provoking the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?

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