Are you a sandwich kind of person or a give-me-a-full-meal person? Several years ago as a young bride, I desired to fix my husband a full meal for supper. I worked hard fixing him his meat, potatoes, at least one other vegetable, and bread. Southern sweet ice tea finished it off. After a few weeks, I began to wonder why go to all the trouble – except for the tea of course. Tom would come in from work, take whatever meat I cooked, and put it between two slices of bread. He liked his sandwich with a lot of meat, and he liked it plain – no lettuce, tomato, pickles, or condiments. Me? I like a hot meal at least once a day. And my sandwich needs it all-a little meat and all the fixings.
Today’s blog begins a new series born out of my precept bible study on 1 Corinthians. The first letter the apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians is like a good sandwich with all the fixings. If eaten separately from the whole, some of it is hard to swallow. But when put together it provides the nutrition needed to build and maintain a healthy body of Christ – the church.
Actually, Ephesians 4:1-3 gives us a good overview of Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. I’m using the NASB because I study using it.
“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord,
- entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called,
- with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love,
- being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
This passage parallels Paul’s description of the body of Christ in chapter 3 of 1 Corinthians when he refers to us as –
“God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.” 3:9
He then exhorts us to –
“let each man be careful how he builds upon it.
For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid,
which is Jesus Christ.”
These verses provide the meat of Paul’s letter. It is sandwiched between instructions for building a healthy body as it provides the necessary tools to accomplish the end goal – the promise of completion and final victory.
- “So that ye come behind in no gift, waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall also confirm you unto the end,
- that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
- God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.” 1:7-9, KJV
“But thanks be to God
who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Then after filling this sandwich with instructions concerning the divisions in the church, the immorality in the church, and their questions, Paul puts the final piece of bread on the sandwich. It tastes like the passage in Ephesians we used in the beginning.
- “Be on the alert,
- stand firm in the faith,
- act like men,
- be strong.
- Let all that you do be done in love.”16:13,14
Through the next few weeks we will examine the meat of the sandwich chapter by chapter. We will hear Paul’s instructions to this unhealthy church and the church today – not to point a finger at others – but to take a close look at our own lives in hopes of building a healthy body to the glory of Christ.
Is love of God and others behind all you do?
What are you willing to do to build up the church of Jesus Christ?