Singer John Charles Thomas, at age sixty-six, wrote to syndicated columnist Abigail Van Buren: “I am presently completing the second year of a three-year survey on the hospitality or lack of it in churches. To date, of the 195 churches I have visited, I was spoken to in only one by someone other than an official greeter and that was to ask me to move my feet.”
1 Corinthians 16:17-20
I was glad when Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus arrived, because they have supplied what was lacking from you. 18 For they refreshed my spirit and yours also. Such men deserve recognition. 19 The churches in the province of Asia send you greetings. Aquila and Priscilla greet you warmly in the Lord, and so does the church that meets at their house. 20 All the brothers and sisters here send you greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss.
Note what is said about this lay servant and his household.
They were the first converts of Achaia, which was the large province of which Corinth was a part. Imagine the courage it took to be the first to step forward for Christ, especially in a culture that had become a cesspool of immorality, injustice, and worldliness.
Addicted to Service!!!
They not only ministered to others, they were addicted to meeting the needs of believers. In verse 15, the word addicted (etaxan) means they devoted themselves, appointed themselves, diligently gave themselves to meeting the day-to-day needs of the believers.
Fortunas and Achaicus
Fortunate was a name often taken on by former slaves. Now he would have been more like a voluntary employee. But Paul encourages the believers to submit to him. This shows the radical freeing and status-raising power of the gospel to equalize: the ground is level at the foot of the cross!
They had been faithful in their duty as appointed by the church, and had actually gone above and beyond, sharing even more.
They had refreshed his spirit just as they would refresh the spirit of the Corinthians by being faithful to their charge.
They serve as shining examples of what believers should be. Such faithful believers are to be acknowledged.
Aquila and Priscilla
Two former leaders of the Corinthian church, Aquila was Jewish with his wife Priscilla.
What the Roman emperor Claudius meant for evil turned out for good for Priscilla and Aquila. They were living in Rome in 49 when Claudius expelled all the Jews because of a riot over a certain “Chrestus,” probably an allusion to Jewish arguments over Christ. Jewish Christians like Priscilla and Aquila were also forced to leave.
So they moved to Corinth, where they set up their tentmaking business. When Paul got there, Priscilla and Aquila opened their home to him and invited him to work with them. The trio later worked and ministered together in Ephesus, which may be where Priscilla and Aquila “risked their necks” for Paul, possibly when he “fought with beasts at Ephesus.” Priscilla is sometimes pictured with two lions who refuse to attack her. They also discipled Apollos to follow Jesus.
When Claudius died in 55, Priscilla and Aquila returned to Rome and again hosted a church in their home.
Churches of Asia, the church in the house, all the brothers and sisters!
The Corinthian Christians weren’t the only church on the globe: not superior, not better, not super-spiritual. The church was a part of the whole, one among many, and the others were now sending their greetings. They were all the followers of the Lord Jesus, and they belonged to the body of the Lord as much as the Corinthian church did.
This is a picture of the unity of the church! This is how it should be.
Leadership flows out of service. You want to lead, learn to serve. Grab a broom! Not a title! See a need and meet a need!
This reinforces our strategy of raising up leaders from within!
They travelled and started churches. They were networked but independent. All of these friends were community and family!
Straight-A students get compliments. Good athletes receive cheers. But average people don’t expect such attention. They just tend to blend in with the woodwork. Everybody needs affirmation of his or her intrinsic wortha person created in God’s image and loved by him. People need to be noticed. They need pats on the back, smiles, hugs. It’s how we tell each other, “Hey, you’re not alone!”
POWER OF TOUCH FOR NBA TEAMS
Dr. Dacher Keltner, a professor of psychology and the scientific adviser for Pixar’s Inside Out, claims that human touch is “the foundation of human relationships.” He explains, “Skin to skin, parent to child, touch is the social language of our social life … The foundation of all human relationship is touch. There are four years of touch exchanged between mother and baby …”
Keltner was one of the co-authors for a study that looked at “celebratory touches” of pro basketball players, including “fist bumps, high-fives, chest bumps, leaping shoulder bumps, chest punches, head slaps, head grabs, low fives, high tens, full hugs, half hugs, and team huddles.” The researchers discovered that teams whose players touched each other a lot did better than those teams whose players didn’t. The conclusion was that touch lowers stress, builds morale, and produces triumphs.
Where do we get new energy?
People who Supply your needs
Maybe you need faith, maybe you need discipline, maybe you need passion, maybe you need generosity. Get around those people. What resources do you need? Who do you know?
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17
People who Refresh your spirit
Leaders in the church can become bitter and negative because they deal constantly with problems. It is rare and precious when leaders can keep their eyes fixed on the good and positive work of God in the church. Paul was encouraged, and he wanted the Corinthian believers to be encouraged too.
You need people who refresh you! Balcony people who are applauding you!
A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. Proverbs 11:25
1 Corinthians 16:21-22
21 I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand. 22 If anyone does not love the Lord, let that person be cursed! Come, Lord!
Cursed without the Lord – anathema! Outrage against those who are pretenders who were not really following the Lord.
Paul was convinced that most people in the Corinthian church believed the gospel, but he knew that every church also contains deceivers and liars. He declared that the Lord curses even people in the church if they do not love him.
Not everyone in the church is there because they love the Lord!
Paul’s harshest words, like Jesus’, were to the legalists who put following the law above God’s call to love.
Maranatha means: Even so, Come Quickly Lord! Come oh Lord!
This world isn’t our home. We eagerly await the day when Jesus splits open the sky.
1 Corinthians 16:23-24
23 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you.
24 My love to all of you in Christ Jesus. Amen.
There is staggering importance of love for Jesus. The most important attitude believers should have for each other is love. Paul left no doubt that his love for the Corinthians was strong and sincere. To confirm his love for them, he added Amen, meaning, “may it be so.”
We need to use our homes like they did.
We all have homes. Connection Groups!!! God gave us our homes to be used in ministry!
Long before the church had pulpits and baptistries, she had kitchens and dinner tables. Even a casual reading of the New Testament shows the house as the primary tool of the church. The primary gathering place of the church was the home. Consider the genius of God’s plan. The first generation of Christians was a tinderbox of contrasting cultures and backgrounds. At least fifteen different nationalities heard Peter’s sermon on the Day of Pentecost. Jews stood next to Gentiles. Men worshiped with women. Slaves and masters alike sought after Christ. Can people of such different backgrounds and cultures get along with each other?
We wonder the same thing today. Can different races live in peace with each other? Can Democrats find common ground with Republicans? Can different people get along?
The early church did—without the help of church buildings or seminaries. They did it through the clearest of messages (the Cross) and the simplest of tools (the home).
Not everyone can serve in another country, lead a disaster relief effort, or volunteer at the down at a soup kitchen. But who can’t be hospitable? Do you have a front door? A table? Chairs? Bread and meat for sandwiches? Congratulations! You just qualified to serve in the oldest of ministries: hospitality.
Something holy happens around a dinner table that will never happen in a sanctuary. In a church worship center you see the backs of heads. Around the table you see the expressions on faces. In the worship center one person speaks; around the table everyone has a voice. Church services are on the clock. Around the table there is time to talk.
Hospitality opens the door to uncommon community. It’s no accident that hospitality and hospital come from the same Latin word, they both lead to the same result: healing. When you open your door to someone, you are sending this message: “You matter to me and to God.” You may think you are saying, “Come over for a visit.” But what your guest hears is, “I’m worth the effort.”
We’ve learned about what unity, and worship, and eternity should look like for us.
These believers were struggling, but God had answers. God showed them the answers. We all struggle. Tell God and others what you struggle with and God can get those answers to you.