Jump Start # 2804
1 Corinthians 11:30 “For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep.”
Our verse today comes from Paul’s concluding thoughts about the Lord’s Supper. The previous verse reminds us to judge the body rightly. If one doesn’t, he brings judgment upon himself. And that flows directly into our, “for this reason,” in our verse today. The reason many are weak, sick and sleeping is because they are not focusing upon what the Lord’s Supper means.
But on a broader scale, our verse once more identifies the struggles and disappointments found within the Corinthian church. Much earlier Paul rebuked the Corinthians for being carnal, worldly minded and babes. This was a church that today we’d run from. Some were denying the resurrection. Some were suing each other. There was division and a misuse of the Lord’s Supper. They were tolerating and accepting an immoral member. Nearly every page introduces more problems. Attitudes, behavior, doctrinal beliefs, fellowship—what troubles plagued that church. It would be a preacher’s nightmare. Backseat driving would have us to wonder if Paul should have stayed there longer and got the brethren on better footing. We wonder if these folks were truly converted? And, we wonder if any of them ever got going in the right direction and became examples to others?
Now, all of this is helpful reminders as churches start meeting back again. Some places are seeing their numbers pop right back to where they were before covid. Others, many others, are seeing smaller attendance and numbers just trickling in. Some have gotten use to staying home on Sunday and after nearly a year of that, it’s rather comfortable for them.
Here are some things to remember:
First, we are all on a journey with the Lord. Some grow faster than others. Some are content to stay just where they are. Some are weak, have been weak and likely will remain weak. If brethren in Corinth were weak with the preaching of Paul and Apollos, we know that some will be weak today. Different approaches and ideas will be used to strengthen these people, but in the end, some are very, very content to remain weak. Just enough faith to take care of guilt but not enough faith to make a difference.
Second, the lackluster desire in some discourages the strong. The strong can’t understand why others do not want to be strong. It’s hard to understand why some are content to do so little when there are so many opportunities presented to help them grow and become stronger.
Third, it is important that those stronger remain that way. Congregations need to keep doing great work and teaching and providing ways to learn and grow. Not everyone will take hold of these things. And, discouragement may lead us to just stop all these things, but you can’t. Teaching and providing ways for people to grow is what the Lord wants us to do and we must continue to do those things.
Fourth, in Paul’s words to the Corinthians, he never advocates a separation between those who are weak, sickly and sleepy from those who are strong. Paul never tells us to just cut the losses and leave those others behind. And, in all of this Paul doesn’t sugar coat their spiritual condition, nor justify where they are. He’s honest in his assessment of them. Some were weak. Some were sickly. Some were asleep. And, it is those very ones that would get carried away with error. It is those very ones that would not see any problem with immorality among them. It is those very ones that would likely divide and fight among each other. They do not have the right faith in their wheelhouse to make the right decisions. The trouble that would be found in Corinth didn’t come from strong members, but those that were weekly, sick and sleeping. The way that they would change would be through the constant teaching of God’s word. Keeping at it, keep teaching and teaching and that would be the avenue to encourage and help those who are asleep.
The problems at Corinth weren’t unique to that area. In Galatians, brethren were fighting each other. In Sardis, some were dead. In Ephesus, the call was for them to wake up. This journey that we are on, is just that, a journey. And, when some have stopped or some have taken another path, we must try to help them back where they need to be. Christians who are weak and slow to get what this is about is not new to our times. It’s not something unique to covid. It has to do with faith and life.
This calls upon us to be patient, kind and set forth the right example. We need to help those who have fallen behind. There are some who are weak, sickly and sleeping, yet today. Help them to see what they are missing. Help them to be what the Lord wants.