Many years ago I was part of a ministers’ group that was doing a study through 1 Corinthians. Each month two men would do presentations on two chapters, offering insight and practical application from their preparation and study. It was a great group and I would love to be a part of something like that today.
I remember when we got to chapter 5, the minister who spoke commented on verses 9 and 10, “I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world…” He said that this was a mistranslation that obviously it should read, “Not only meaning the sexually immoral of this world.” That obviously we shouldn’t associate with people who aren’t Christians.
He didn’t bother citing his sources. I was young and he was much older and I didn’t feel it was my place to challenge him (it might surprise some of my friends that I have that kind of restraint). As I look back I’m even more surprised that the older men at the meeting didn’t challenge him either. Was this their accepted interpretation of this passage? Did they all twist Paul’s words to exclude relationships with those outside of the Church?
I’ve been amazed at the response this message has generated. One of the ladies in our church commented on her Facebook page, “Bret your sermon was awesome today. The main part being we need to share Jesus with our friends. BUT the part that brought tears to my eyes was the hand on your shoulder and the whisper in your ear reminding you of your prayer and that it was answered. I have had more than one of those experiences and no one can tell me God isn’t a prayer answering God or that He doesn’t care enough about us to let us know in a real way that He heard and answered.” It was a great reminder not only about transparency, but just how much our own stories can connect to the stories our people bring with them every week.
The response that really floored me, though, came from a friend who said that the message brought her some healing from hurts caused by Christian friends who had rejected her years earlier. She now understands what they were thinking and how they were misled. As a result, she’s not beating herself up about it like she used to.
I didn’t expect my message to provide that for anyone. I’m absolutely amazed at how God uses us.