The Greatest Is Love

HPC – The Greatest Is Love 10/02/19

The Successful Life.  What do you believe?

Reading 1 Cor 12:27 – 31

Among other things, over the last number of weeks, we have been looking at what God calls a successful life!

We have seen that it all starts with what we believe!  And what you are looking for!

Do you believe God exists?  Do you believe Him?  Do you believe God is who He says He is?  Do you believe God can and will do what He says He will do?  Do you believe you are who God says you are?

Do you believe you have a future in God?  

If you are not sure what you believe – then look at what you spend your time thinking about and talking about, and fighting for!  Are you fighting for the Kingdom, fighting to save the lost – or are you fighting life, fighting yourself, fighting those closest to you – are you fighting the church because it’s not what you want it to be.  This is what was going on in Corinth, that and other problems and so Paul writes to them.  

But, what does God want?

Over the last weeks God has been asking many questions – questions that are valid to each and every one of us.  Because it is at times like these, these difficult days, that we are seeking God’s heart for us – and He is seeking our hearts.  

We have seen that it is impossible to please God without faith – without believing and trusting Him.  Believing Him – not just believing in Him.

What is the purpose of life?  What is the purpose of your life?  Why do you exist?  What are you looking for?  What are you working towards?  What is the ultimate goal?  

This life is an awesome gift.  But God has planned something better!  God has had a plan right from the beginning to the very end!  This life is not what this life is all about.  It is because of the life to come that this life has any meaning – and so we have to live this life for that life.  We live this life for God, not ourselves – and then we will find the fullness of life.

So what is a successful life to God?  Firstly to believe in Him, to believe Him at His Word, to trust Him, to be bound to Him, to Hope in Him, to be fully reliant and dependent on Him – to live for Him.

But the Good News is God Himself helps us to believe.  And we can cry out, like the man who encountered Jesus and said – “I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief” (Mark 9:24).  Do you feel like that some times?  When Thomas doubted Jesus said, come see and touch.

If you are struggling with unbelief, doubt, fear – God is not shaking His head and tut tutting about it.  He is not disappointed in you, He is not angry.  He is saying, let me help you – this is something we have to do together.  He does not leave us to try and figure these things out on our own – we can not do it without Him – and it is His delight to be part of every little thing in our lives – in our belief, and even in our unbelief!  We do not have faith in our faith – we have faith in God.  Faith is a full relationship that never ends.  God is with you through it all – not just when you are getting it right.

Perhaps then the next step in living God’s success for us is to believe;

1 Cor 12:27 Now you are the Body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

You are the Body of Christ!  Something I have to keep reminding myself of – there is never a time when I am not the Body of Christ.  

You are the Body of Christ.  

What does that really mean?

Paul compares a group of believers to the Body of Christ.  He is writing to the Church in Corinth.  He was not writing to an institution – to the head office and administrators!  He was writing to real everyday people who read this letter together when they met.  And he was writing to you, and me.

Paul starts his letter to the Corinthian believers;

1 Cor 1:2 To the Church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be Holy, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We are those who are everywhere.

You are the Church of God.  You are sanctified, you are called, you are Holy to God.  Do you believe that?

The word used for Church here is “ekklesia” – those called out – called out by God.

And sanctified – you are consecrated and dedicated to God.  Do you believe that?

And called – you are divinely selected and invited by God to be His people and to be about His business.  Do you believe that?

And you are Holy – you are sacred to God.  Do you believe that?

We are all, together the Church of God.  We are are a part of something  so wonderfully huge – God’s Church throughout the world.  We are called out by God, set apart for a divine purpose, dedicated to God.  We have been divinely selected and invited by God to be His people.  We are sacred to God.  We have been called to be about God’s business.

You are the Church of God.  You are the Body of Christ.

Take a moment to consider that!  Say to God – I am yours.  Just be silent and allow God to talk to you.

Paul compares the Body of Christ to a human body.  Each part has a specific function that is necessary to the body as a whole.  The parts are different for a purpose, and in their differences they must work together – and they can, because each is part of a higher purpose – each part knows the plan, what the objective is.  And that is decided by the Head – and the only Head of His Church is Christ Himself.

God has given us each our part in His Body, and He has gifted us by His Spirit to be that part.  

Christians often make two mistakes.  Being too proud of their abilities and position as part of the Body or Christ, or thinking they have nothing to give.  

Instead of comparing ourselves, we should each be our uniquely beautiful selves, each doing our part as God has gifted us to complete the whole.  These gifts of the Spirit are more than our natural talents and abilities, they are a Spiritual empowering by God to do the specific part as His Body that He has given us to do.  

The Corinthians had fallen into a trap we so often see in the church.  Elevating some above others because it seems to us that those with the  “greater” gifts are more important than others.  None are more or less important than another.  What is important is the One Body – and the One job God has given His Body.

1 Cor 12:28 And God has placed in the Church first of all Apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of help, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues.

God has placed in His Body everything that is needed for you to be successful.  And the greatest success is to be the Body of Christ, and for each one of us to play our part – and we can only complete God’s work together.

We each have our part to play in God’s business.  It is the Church’s job to spread the Gospel and build God’s Kingdom.

Our job is not to build Highlands Presbyterian Church.  Our focus is not to make HPC a success.  We, as the Body of Christ are called to something so much bigger – the Church of God.

If you think you are gifted and called to be part of the Body here at HPC – then what does that look like?  If you think HPC is only about what happens here on a Sunday, then how do you play your part?

If you realize that God, through us, wants to save the world – and that we need each other here and out there – then there is space and a part for each of us.

What does success look like to God?  Your Kingdom come, your Will be done – you pray it, do you believe it?

Do you really want, before all other things, for the Kingdom of God, for His Will to be done in your life.  God’s Will is for you to play your part in His Kingdom, in His Church, in His Body.  But the Church, for us, is not about what goes on here at HPC.  It is about what we are all doing, here and out there to bring about the Kingdom of God.

You are the Body of Christ, and each of you is a part of it.  

Paul, writes to the Corinthian church to help with the many problems in the church – they were side tracked by so many less important things to the true calling of the Body of Christ.  

Then he says –  I will show you the most excellent of ways.  1 Cor 13, the most complete teaching of what love is.  And it goes on to say;

1 Cor 13:13 (MSG) One day we will see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing Him directly just as He knows us.  But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us to that perfect union with God;  trust (believe have faith) in God, hope unswervingly, and love extravagantly.  And the best of the three is love.

The most successful life is to love God and to love each other and to love others – to love extravagantly.

Which brings it all to a most important question – do you worship God because you know of Him – or do you love Him because you know Him?

Love God with all your heart soul and strength, and love others – if we have not love, we have nothing.

We can not be the Body of Christ without love.  We can not do the work He has given us without love.  

Do you believe you have a future in God that starts today?  That your future is being part of His Kingdom – and then fulfilling your calling will be for you real and true joy.  

Do you believe that you are the Body of Christ?

Prayer – teach us to love.  To love you, to love your Church, your people.  To love those who do not know you.  To love our enemies.  To love the unlovable.  Help us to be Kingdom people.  Your kingdom come, your will be done.

Love never gives up.

Love cares more for others than for self.

Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.

Love doesn’t strut,

Doesn’t have a swelled head,

Doesn’t force itself on others,

Isn’t always “me first,”

Doesn’t fly off the handle,

Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,

Doesn’t revel when others grovel,

Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,

Puts up with anything,

Trusts God always,

Always looks for the best,

Never looks back,

But keeps going to the end.