From Easter, April 5th, through June 14th we will be in a sermon series looking at 1st Corinthians we are calling Witnesses.
Too often, as followers of Jesus, we think of our “witness” as an activity Jesus calls us to do rather than an identity Jesus calls us to be. After taking the punishment for our sins on the Cross, Jesus rose from the dead and gathered his disciples on the Mount of Olives to give them his parting instructions before ascending to heaven. There is no doubt that there are some things Jesus told his disciples to do while he was gone, but technically speaking, witnessing was not one of them. Jesus did say that his followers are to do witnessing, but to be witnesses. Jesus envisioned our witness as an identity, not merely an activity. To use his own words, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and YOU WILL BE MY WITNESSES” (Acts 1:8). In the popular model of witnessing as an activity, the focus is on telling others the truth about Jesus with our words, but when you take on the identity of a witness, the focus is on ensuring that every part of your life is intentionally telling others the truth about Jesus. When witnessing becomes merely an activity, it is altogether possible to tell others the truth about Jesus with our words when everything else about us is sending false messages about Jesus.
In this series, we will rediscover the truth that God does not just use our statements about Jesus to show the world that Jesus reigns over us and everything else. Rather, God uses US to show the world that Jesus reigns over us and everything else. One of the places Paul, a first-century disciple of Jesus, went to be a witness was the pagan Greek city of Corinth where he spent a year and a half (Acts 18:1-18). In Paul’s time, Corinth was a great city, a major political center for the seat of government of the Roman province of Achaia, a major commercial center on an isthmus where east traded with west, a major cultural melting pot of multiple ethnicities, and a major religious center with the famous temple of Aphrodite (the goddess of love). If there was a place where a Christian was in great danger of doing the activity of witnessing about Jesus while denying his or her identity as a witness in other areas of life, it was Corinth. The city’s messages about money, culture, sex, worship, conflict, government, and other areas was very different from the message that Jesus meant the lives of his followers to proclaim about himself. As such, Paul wrote a letter to the church there to address different areas of life in which we need to be intentional about maintaining our identity as Christ’s witnesses, because being a witness is not one dimensional; how outsiders perceive Jesus is affected by many different things in our lives.