1 Corinthians

1 Corinthians 11:2-16: Gender

Sun, 09/09/2018 - 10:30 -- James Oakley

This text is a strange one to our ears. It’s like entering a period drama. Downton Abbey. Longer ago, maybe: Poldark. Troy, even.

It’s all about the need for women to have their heads covered, and for men not to do so.

What kind of head covering? All we can think of is posh hats at a wedding, or at Ascot. Or we think of some of the veils worn by women in Muslim countries, which have sparked debates in several western countries including our own.

But it’s not about that. So what are these head coverings?

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1 Corinthians 10:1-11:1 Idolatry

Sun, 12/08/2018 - 10:30 -- James Oakley

Many people today think that it doesn’t really matter which religion someone chooses. It’s a lifestyle choice, a bit like choosing your diet or your car. It’s part of your culture. Either way, there’s no better or worse to religion. It’s just another way in which we’re different.

Certainly, the Bible tells us to love and respect every person. We don’t just care for those who share our beliefs. We’re one human family, made in the image of God. But that’s not the same as saying that there’s no better or worse, that religion doesn’t matter.

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1 Corinthians 9:19-27: Winning

Sun, 29/07/2018 - 10:30 -- James Oakley

What do you aim at in life? What do you want to achieve? What are the things that you’d make big sacrifices for?

The Christians in ancient Corinth were aiming at the wrong things. Or, rather, they were missing some very important ambitious.

And as a result, they were growing less keen on the apostle Paul, their founder.

We’re in 1 Corinthians chapter 9. If you were here when we looked at chapter 8, you’ll know that Paul was answering a question they’d asked him: “Can we eat meat that has first been offered as a sacrifice to one of the Greek gods?”

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1 Corinthians 9:1-18: Freeware

Sun, 22/07/2018 - 10:30 -- James Oakley

The apostle Paul gets plenty of bad press. We’ve been working our way through 1 Corinthians, a letter Paul wrote. It’s in the Bible, So it’s the word of God for us today.

It should be that simple, but there are plenty of people in the wider church who have lots of time for Jesus but not a lot of time for Paul.

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1 Corinthians 8:1-13: Knowledge

Sun, 15/07/2018 - 10:30 -- James Oakley

I don’t know about you, but I’m a little weary of living in a world where it’s a scramble to the top. Where everyone stands on their rights, claiming everything they think they’re entitled to. Where other people are frequently nothing more than an inconvenience for everyone’s personal ambition.

God intends the Christian church to be radically different from that. To be a refreshing picture of how humanity is meant to function. To be a foretaste of how things will be when Jesus returns.

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1 Corinthians 7:17-40: Singleness

Sun, 08/07/2018 - 10:30 -- James Oakley

We live in a restless age. Whether it’s houses, jobs or relationships, people are always trying to move onwards and upwards.

Houses: It’s called a housing ladder. It’s increasingly hard to get on that first rung, but once there some people change their home every few years, climbing that ladder.

Jobs: I have several friends who change their employer every few years, either because they’re dissatisfied with their current job, or because moving sideways is the way to move upwards.

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1 Corinthians 7:1-16: Marriage

Sun, 24/06/2018 - 10:30 -- James Oakley

The Christian church is often heard, by those on the outside, as having a purely negative message about sex and relationships. It seems there are an awful lot of things the people shouldn’t do. It’s all about “thou shalt not”.

Indeed, we’ve had a bit of that in recent chapters in 1 Corinthians. In chapter 5, a man was sleeping with his stepmother, and Paul rebukes the church for failing to discipline the man.

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1 Corinthians 6:9-20: Immorality

Sun, 17/06/2018 - 10:30 -- James Oakley

Today, our Bible reading addresses the subject of sexual sin. And I’m very aware of the need to tread carefully. This is a sensitive subject. For a number of reasons.

It’s sensitive culturally. Increasingly, Western culture says there’s no such thing as sexual sin. That’s not actually true. There are taboos. The big ones are unfaithfulness and underage. But apart from that, as long as there is clear consent, just about anything goes.

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1 Corinthians 6:1-11: Litigation

Sun, 10/06/2018 - 10:30 -- James Oakley

Have a think for a moment: What’s the most precious thing you own?

If there was a danger you might lose that thing, what would you do to protect it? How far would you go to ensure you don’t lose your most prized possession?

Today, we continue our journey through Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth. He’s had a number of reports that concern him. Divisions around loyalty to different preachers. A church that’s proud that a man is sleeping with his stepmother. And now today: Christians taking each other to court.

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1 Corinthians 5:1-13: Incest

Sun, 27/05/2018 - 10:30 -- James Oakley

Introduction: A Startling Issue

Well, I wonder what you made of that reading. Paul describes something that would need a movie to be a 15 or 18 certificate. The editors have added a shocking heading to our English Bibles: “Dealing with a case of incest”.

The really shocking thing is that this was happening in a Christian church. Paul makes no effort to hide his disbelief at what has been reported to him.

The challenge for us is that it’s so unexpected, it’s hard to see the relevance of a chapter like this. It may fascinate us, but does it connect with us?

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