Wednesday, July 9, 2014

MERELY HUMAN (1 Corinthians Chapter 3)

1 Corinthians 3:1-4, “But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ.  I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it.  And even now you are not ready, for you are still of the flesh.  For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving only in a human way?  For when one says, ‘I follow Paul,’ and another ‘I follow Apollos,’ are you not merely human?”

The church in Corinth had a problem—the people were quarreling with each other and dividing according to which particular church leader they preferred.  But their quarrelsome divisiveness was just a symptom on an underlying debility. The underlying problem was that they were fleshly in their behavior.  “Jealously and strife”—sure evidence of their fleshliness—were at the heart of the discord.  Because of their fleshly ways, Paul was not able to speak to them as spiritual people.

God had called them to a higher plane of living.  They were called to be “saints,” but were not acting like “holy ones” (Cf. 1 Corinthians 1:2, saints = “holy ones”).  They were indwelt by the Spirit (Cf. 1 Corinthians 12:13), but His fruit was not apparent in their lives (Cf. Galatians 5:22-23).  Though destined in Christ to grow and to love, they were wallowing in the mire of selfish sins.  They were called to a different, holy, manner of life, but their lives looked no different than those of the lost (Cf. Ephesians 4:17).  They were behaving as though they were “merely human,” (Cf. 1 Corinthians 3:4), though God had called them to a superhuman manner of life.

While walking through the forest one day, a man found a young eagle who had fallen out of his nest.  He took it home and put it in his barnyard where it soon learned to eat and behave like the chickens.  One day a naturalist passed by the farm and asked why it was that the king of all birds should be confined to live in the barnyard with the chickens.  The farmer replied that since he had given it chicken feed and trained it to be a chicken, it had never learned to fly.  Since it now behaved as the chickens, it was no longer an eagle.

"Still it has the heart of an eagle," replied the naturalist, "and can surely be taught to fly.”  He lifted the eagle toward the sky and said, "You belong to the sky and not to the earth.  Stretch forth your wings and fly."  The eagle, however, was confused.  He did not know who he was, and seeing the chickens eating their food, he jumped down to be with them again.  The naturalist took the bird to the roof of the house and urged him again, saying, "You are an eagle.  Stretch forth your wings and fly."

But the eagle was afraid of his unknown self and world and jumped down once more for the chicken food.  Finally the naturalist took the eagle out of the barnyard to a high mountain.  There he held the king of the birds high above him and encouraged him again, saying, "You are an eagle.  You belong to the sky.  Stretch forth your wings and fly."  The eagle looked around, back towards the barnyard and up to the sky.  Then the naturalist lifted him straight towards the sun and it happened that the eagle began to tremble.  Slowly he stretched his wings, and with a triumphant cry, soared away into the heavens.

It may be that the eagle still remembers the chickens with nostalgia.  It may even be that he occasionally revisits the barnyard.  But as far as anyone knows, he has never returned to lead the life of a chicken.

The believer is a “new creation” in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), delivered through His death and resurrection from the penalty and power of sin, that he might “walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).  He is Christ’s “workmanship” (His masterpiece), saved by grace “for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we would walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).  The lost selfishly scavenge in the chicken yard for scraps, the believer is one who has been delivered from sin that he might soar above in a higher plane—loving Jesus by loving others to God’s glory.  Don’t scavenge in the chicken yard in fleshly pursuits, believer in Christ, by the Spirit spread your wings and fly (Cf. Galatians 5:16, 22-23).

No comments: