Today’s scripture focus: I Corinthians 9:24-27 (NIV) (The Message)
Corinth was a major port city in the Roman Empire, strategically located on a narrow strip of coast, fifty miles west of Athens. In New Testament times, it was the center of worship for Aphrodite, the goddess of sex, whose temple was served by over 1,000 priestess-prostitutes.
There is quite a lively “conversation” going on between the followers in Corinth and Paul, who founded the church there. Letters are being sent back and forth, delegations are coming to and fro, arguments are made, instructions given, and misconceptions clarified. I and II Corinthians are the only two surviving letters of this exchange.
Paul is continuing to answer the question of whether or not it is ok to eat “idol meat”. He deals with the real issue behind this controversy: selfishness vs. love. He uses a metaphor from athletics to make his point.
The city of Corinth played host to the Isthmian Games, from which our modern day Olympics evolved. Atheletes competed in running, leaping, boxing, chariot racing, and other feats of agility and speed. Winners of these competitions were rewarded with a wreath of pine. Paul makes the point that if people are willing to work so hard for temporary prizes, followers of Jesus should be just as strict in obtaining eternal rewards.
Many Corinthian believers were under they impression that as long as they continued to worship by taking part in the Lord’s Supper, they could sit back and take it easy. This lead to using the Lord’s Supper as an opportunity for gluttony and drunkenness, and caused division. Paul reminded the Corinthians that if they truly loved God, they would discipline and deny their bodies in order to spread His love to others. Paul had only one focus in life – spread the Good News of God’s love.
This Sunday’s sermon will focus on how we can live a “strict” lifestyle of love.
1. What is your favorite sport to play? To watch?
2. Other than spiritual needs, what is the greatest need in the community of Denison right now?
3. What lessons can Christians learn from sports?
4. Is it important for followers of Jesus to be self disciplined? Healthy? Debt-free?
5. What area of your life needs the most discipline right now?
For further reflection, read the corresponding sermon here.