Should we attach religious significance to food? Does the bible condemn eating certain kinds of food or does the bible condemn food offered during religious festivals? As Christians, we’re called to live among believers and unbelievers who may have very different cultural backgrounds, so imposing our views on others may not always be wise and glorifying to God. How do we handle differences without being a stumbling block to others? Listen to the sermon to find out.
When we participate in the Lord’s supper and have communal meals together, we’re not involved in empty rituals. We remember the ultimate sacrifice Christ has done for us on the cross, so we do it by faith. Not only that, but we also have fellowship with the members of the church because we have all been united in Christ. Similarly, when pagans celebrate their festivals with communal meals, they have fellowship with their pagan gods. This passage teaches us that if we partake in such pagan communal meals, we’re committing idolatry.
Nominal Christians are those people whose life is not characterized by repentance, obedience and faith in Christ, but they’re found in the church gatherings just to maintain their religious status. It is necessary to examine our lives and see if our professed love for God stretch into action and showcase Christlike character. In this passage, we learn how we can forsake nominal Christianity and continue to walk faithfully in the path that Christ has called us.
Christianity is not about serving ourselves but it’s about serving others. It’s about putting other people’s needs before us, it also means that we shouldn’t always insist on our rights. We have reached a passage where Paul begins to challenge believers to sacrifice those things that are unnecessarily offensive to other believers and this can even be extended to unbelievers as well. He wants Christians to make every effort to win people to Christ.
There are many obstacles in our lives that keep us from giving our full attention to God’s mission. Deep down we’re not as passionate as God is, to serve others. Our lives are mostly surrounded by career, family, entertainment, vacation etc. This is why the passage calls us to make sacrifices in our lives so that we can serve others who need Christ. This passage also calls us to suffer just like Christ, in order to reach people with good news of the gospel.
In our first sermon on Deacons, we learnt that they take care of material needs or administrative work in the church. There has been sufficient focus on men leaders and their character qualities. In this passage, we learn about female deacons serving in the church, and the kind of character qualities they need to exhibit.
There are many practical aspects of church ministry like finances, hospitality, venue set up, event organisation, church retreats etc. Teaching elders and ruling elders may not have the bandwidth to look into these matters as they’re primarily called to disciple people, to counsel, to encourage and pray with the congregation at every stage of life. So this is where the bible brings deacons into the picture to handle administrative tasks in order to make the elders’ work easier. In this passage we learn about deacons and what character qualities they ought to have.
Religious leaders often seem very kind in public, but get aggressive and violent when someone opposes them. Sometimes Pastors even beat up their wives and do not respect them in private. There are other leaders in the church, who serve people because of money. Some leaders are good with people in public but poor in managing their own household, their children don’t listen to them and are extremely rebellious. As a father and husband, they’re very passive about family matters, and the list goes on and on. But the Apostle Paul has a response against all these bad character qualities of a leader in this passage.
When the Apostle Paul writes down the character qualities of an elder in 1 Timothy, he lists out many virtues that display Christ-like character. And for the leaders in the church, there are some mandatory character qualities that Paul suggests cannot be compromised. In this 2nd part of learning about elder qualities, we learn how ability to teach, being hospitable and not being consumed by alcohol marks out a faithful, stable and a mature leader in the church.
We have a lot of poor examples of leaders around us, who make big promises but don’t fulfill them. Hypocrisy is so evident in their lives. Many leaders have fallen into sexual immorality, financial mismanagement, abuse of authority in the church etc. Recognizing a man of character has become a difficult task these days. How do we discern the character qualities of an Elder who is not perfect but acceptable in the eyes of God and people? Listen to the sermon to find out.