1 Corinthians 3:1-9

 An Activity

A great way to make a message stick is with food – so let’s bake some Secret Inside-Outside Cakes!

You will need:

  • 4oz / 125g self-raising flour
  • 4oz / 125g soft margarine
  • 4oz / 125g sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • Cake cases
  • Glace or buttercream icing
  • A selection of chocolate buttons, toffee pieces, sprinkles, jam, cherries, sweets etc

Cream the margarine and sugar, then add the eggs and flour to make a normal Victoria sponge mixture. This should make 12-18 cakes, depending on the size of your cake cases.

Put a spoonful of mixture in the bottom of your paper case, then add one of the extra ingredients to be a special treat in the middle of your cake. The secret middle of the cake must match what you will put on the outside. If you want a chocolate covering, you must hide a chocolate button in the middle. If you want a cherry on the top, you must put a secret cherry inside too.

When you have added your secret filling, spoon in more cake mixture until the case is nearly full and then bake. (Make sure you know which cake is yours!) When the cakes are cooked and cooled, add the topping that matches your secret inside.

As I eat my cake, which matches on the inside and outside, I can remember that it is important that the inside and the outside of me match as well. I must act in a way that matches what I believe.

A Reflection

Facebook can be an odd place to hear God, but I guess he’s quite tech-savvy enough to use any medium he wants. So today, there’s been an odd ‘co-incidence’ of things popping up on facebook that relate very pertinently to the reading for today.

In this passage, Paul is reiterating his frustration over the divisions and personality cults in the church at Corinth. ‘We’re all on the same team,” he argues, “so what’s the point in squabbling about who is the best leader?” He tells them that they are acting more like the world than the church, and that they are not ready for any kind of ‘meaty’ teaching, not until they get the squabbling sorted.

He has already said this, and he’s going to say it again. They were not living in a way that matched their beliefs, and that is as big an issue for us now as it was for them. How we live, how we act, how we spend put time and our money, say far more about what we really believe than the words that come out of our mouths.

Yes, we believe in a Gospel of grace, a salvation based on God’s redeeming work, not our own. But there yet remains an obligation of response to that free gift of God. We love because God first loved us. ‘Hear O Israel, The Lord is God, the Lord alone.’ ‘Hear’ does not mean simply let the sound enter our ears, it must enter our hearts as well, and produce a reaction. Jesus spent an awful lot more time talking about what we need to do than what we need to believe.

And so facebook steps in with ‘memories’ – posts from this same day in previous years. First there was a quote from my daily Bible notes: “Christians are the only Bible that many of our contemporaries read. What message are they receiving, and does it convey both love for God and love for our neighbours?”live-and-speak

In a different ‘memory’ was this quote: “Live and speak in such a way that those who know you, but don’t know God, will come to know God because they know you.” Gosh – that’s a sobering challenge.

And then, just as I start to write this, another quote pops up:

“The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.”

Are we spotting a theme here?

The Corinthian Christians were denying Jesus by their lifestyle. They sang the songs, they shared the meal, they probably raised their hands and shouted enthusiastic ‘Amen’s in the prayers. But they weren’t living the life. Not on Mondays. Not on the bus. Not in their facebook chats.

We need to live out our faith for real in the world. It is no good saying ‘Lord, Lord’ and then not doing what he says. I need to do this. You need to do this. We, as a community of faith, need to do this. Together. Not just as individuals, but as a visible, indivisible body.

It’s important stuff. Without this, we’ll never be ready for the meat.

Our Response

O God who sees my heart,

I confess that the right words come easily to my lips,
but my heart and hands are slower to obey.

Soften my heart, O Lord,
that I might strengthen my hands
And rightly praise you with my lips.

Amen

Bible Text

1 Corinthians 3:1-9 New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised

And so, brothers and sisters, I could not speak to you as spiritual people, but rather as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for solid food. Even now you are still not ready, for you are still of the flesh. For as long as there is jealousy and quarrelling among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving according to human inclinations? For when one says, ‘I belong to Paul’, and another, ‘I belong to Apollos’, are you not merely human?

What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you came to believe, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. The one who plants and the one who waters have a common purpose, and each will receive wages according to the labour of each. For we are God’s servants, working together; you are God’s field, God’s building.

New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised (NRSVA)

New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Credits

Quote from Scripture Union’s Word Live for 25 January 2014

Author unknown

Quote attributed to Brennan Manning


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