03/07/Su – Called Out and Set Apart

2 Chronicles 35:1-27; 1 Corinthians 1:1-9; Psalms 27:4-6; Proverbs 10:29-30

NT: “Paul, called as an apostle of Christ Jesus by God’s will, and Sosthenes our brother: To the church of God at Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called as saints, with all those in every place who call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord — both their Lord and ours. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I always thank my God for you because of the grace of God given to you in Christ Jesus, that you were enriched in him in every way, in all speech and all knowledge. In this way, the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you, so that you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you will be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful; you were called by him into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭1:1-9‬ ‭CSB)

The Apostle Paul wrote this letter to the church at Corinth – a church that he founded. Corinth was the “sin city” of its day – an overtly pagan, humanistic, hyper-sexualized place. It was in that environment that Paul established the church. This letter was written in response to some troubling news Paul had received about this community of believers. Before Paul addressed the issues at hand, he greeted them by reminding them of who they were and who they were called to be in Christ.

First, Paul called them the church of God at Corinth. The word “church” comes from the Greek word ekklesia. Ekklesia is an assembly of people who are called out from their place of dwelling, into the public eye, for a purpose. The community of believers in Corinth were called out of the world and the Corinthian culture to fulfill God’s purposes under the gaze of the unbelieving public. Secondly, Paul called them sanctified in Christ Jesus and referred to them as saints. The word “sanctified” comes from the Greek word hagiazo and the word “saints” from the Greek word hagios. Hagiazo means to be set apart from the profane, and consecrated and dedicated to God. Hagios refers to those who are hagiazo. The believers in Corinth, because of their faith in Christ, were called (divinely selected and appointed) to be sanctified and live as saints. In order to fulfill that calling, Paul said that they were, by grace through faith, made rich in speech and all knowledge and were not lacking in any spiritual gift. In other words, through their faith in Christ, they were graced with everything they needed, and were continually ever-strengthened to live a saintly life that would testify to the truth of the gospel to the pagan, unbelieving world that watched them. If that wasn’t enough, Paul ended his greeting by reminding them that they were also called into fellowship (koinonia) with Jesus Christ. Koinonia is an intimate partnership and an all-sharing community.

The Corinthian church was not living up to their calling, so Paul reminded them of who they were called to be. As we read these words, we also should be reminded of who we are called to be as the church of God in whatever community we may live in. Church is not a social club. Church is not a norm of society. Church is not a social justice movement. Church is not a political organization. Church is a community of believers, graced by God with every spiritual gift, that has been called out of the surrounding culture to live a holy and sanctified life, by the grace of God, in the watchful eyes of the unbelieving world to accomplish God’s purposes and testify to His goodness and faithfulness. The church does that as they abide in intimate and unbroken fellowship with Christ by the indwelling Holy Spirit. Are we, today, living up to our calling in Christ?

Psalms: “I have asked one thing from the Lord; it is what I desire: to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, gazing on the beauty of the Lord and seeking him in his temple. For he will conceal me in his shelter in the day of adversity; he will hide me under the cover of his tent; he will set me high on a rock. Then my head will be high above my enemies around me; I will offer sacrifices in his tent with shouts of joy. I will sing and make music to the Lord.” (‭‭Psalms‬ ‭27:4-6‬ ‭CSB)

King David said that the one thing that he desired above anything else… above riches, above notoriety, above power and influence – above anything, was to be able to dwell in the presence of the Lord, gaze upon His beautiful holiness, and seek Him in everything. David knew that if he could dwell in God’s presence, the he would have everything he needed to be at peace and live the life he was called to live. In Christ through faith, David’s desire is our reality. As Paul said, we have been called by God (because of our faith in Christ) into unbroken and intimate fellowship with God’s Son, Jesus Christ. Through all the challenges and trials of life… through all the scary things that may happen to us… through all of the attacks and temptations from the world, our flesh, and the devil, we are able to abide in Christ as His word abides in us. And as we abide, we are graced with every spiritual gift and are ever-strengthened to live holy and sanctified lives that become signs and wonders to the watching world.

Proverbs: “The way of the Lord is a stronghold for the honorable, but destruction awaits evildoers.” (‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭10:29‬ ‭CSB)

The way of the Lord, which is faith in Christ that leads to loving obedience, is a stronghold – for by following the way of the Lord, we are called to abide in Christ. For those who live on their own, outside of the ways of God, destruction (though it may be delayed for a time) is inevitable.

Prayer: Lord, You have called me to a high purpose. You haven’t just called me to live in the world and be slightly better than the world as I struggle and strive to live a good life. You haven’t called me to do “Christian things” using the same methods of the world. You have called me out, as a member of Your church, from the world to live separated from the world’s perversions and wholly dedicated to You and Your purposes. You have graced me with everything that I need as I walk in faith in You, and you have called me to unbroken intimate fellowship with You. My desire is to live according to Your calling for my life. I know that I can’t do that in my own strength, but in You – by grace through faith – as I abide in You, all things You have called me to are possible. Here I am, Lord. Accomplish Your will in and through me. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

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