I Corinthians 1:1-9 January 19, 2014
I need a volunteer this morning.
I know there are at least a few quilters among us, right?
Are there any quilters here this morning?
Would one of you be willing to come up here to give me a hand?
(interview) Quilting is an art form, right?
I haven’t been that interested in quilts over my life so far, but something about living in Holmes County is helping me to appreciate quilts in a new way.
There’s something neat about the way the different pieces of fabric fit together.
Now, it’s my understanding that there are different patterns of quilts, right?
Isn’t “Log Cabin” a certain pattern of quilt?
What are some of your favorite patterns?
Now, it’s pretty much up to the quilter to pick the pattern and the fabric and do the piecing, right?
can you describe ‘piecing’ for me?
So really, a quilt is an individual creation…but there’s a whole community of quilters who actually assign value to the quilts, right?
Otherwise the MCC auction wouldn’t be quite the same success that it is.
…I just have a couple more questions.
See, I’ve come to appreciate quilts in a new way, so what would you say this morning if I told you I wanted to become a quilter?
See, I brought this paper towel with me…I’ve seen some paper towels that say they’re ‘quilted’…so if I have this paper towel and I offer it to the quilting community, does that make me a quilter?
What would make me a quilter? we have a stack of rags at our house that we use for cleaning…could I go home and somehow fasten those together…would that make me a quilter?
Who comes up with the membership guidelines as to whether or not someone is a quilter?
Basically, you have to produce a quilt, am I right?
And you can’t just call something a quilt that isn’t really a quilt.
Quilting is a craft, and there’s a whole community of craftspeople, or Quilters, who are there to offer help and guidance I’m sure, but they also have enough experience to authentically say “yes, that’s a quilt” or “no…that’s not a quilt, and you have some work to do if you want to be a quilter”.
(thank you, you can go back to your seat).
I’d like to suggest this morning that Christianity is the same way.
You don’t become a Christian simply by saying you’re a Christian.
You become a Christian by stitching together the pieces of your life in a way that speaks your faith to others who are doing the same thing.
Sure, it starts with a decision and a declaration. “I want to be a Christian”…but that’s just when the work begins.
I’m talking about discipleship.
See, so often we think of Faith as a club that we join…you’re either in or you’re out.
And so often, we think of Jesus as our sugar daddy; after all he paid the price of admission for all of us, right?
But that way of understanding faith makes it far too easy to come and go as we please.
It’s not just a church that we joined when we chose the way of Christ.
It’s a lifestyle.
Paul talks about it in terms of call and sanctification, and I think he’s right on.
Sanctification is kind of a big word that we don’t use much anymore.
But it means ‘being made holy’.
If Christians were craftspeople, Holiness would be our craft.
So that’s one way we can take what Paul is hinting at here in 1 Corinthians.
If I want to be called a quilter, I better be willing to back up that claim by having a quilt to show, or being willing to learn how to quilt from accomplished quilters.
In the same way, when I hear the voice of God calling to me, when I choose to heed the call to come and follow Christ, I better be willing to back it up with my lifestyle.
In other words, I better start pursuing holiness. Otherwise I’m just some guy who’s calling himself a Christian.
The world has enough of those.
See, the church is the community of human artisans.
We are not left alone to stitch together the pieces of our lives into a meaningful whole.
We have each other.
But one big difference between quilting and Faith is that with faith, it’s much much easier to hide behind my schedule, my work commitments, my personal life.
It’s much easier in church to hide behind a smokescreen of religious language and false piety, because there’s not an actual product to show at the end of the day.
There’s a really interesting story; it’s a true story and it’s been turned into a movie, about a guy named Frank Abagnale.
Frank was just a teenager when he started pulling off scams to the tune of millions of dollars.
The way he would do it is, he would pose as really professional people, and he’d find a way to weasel himself onto the payroll at some really prestigious institutions.
By the time he was 19, he had received paychecks and held actual positions (falsely of course) he had impersonated a college professor, a lawyer, an actual medical doctor…even an airline pilot!
How in the world did he do it, right? Those people need to know what they’re doing, right? IT would have been obvious that this was just a kid, right?
I read an interview or something with Frank where he explained part of his reasoning for going so big with his scamming.
He picked white collar professions because it’s easier to hide where there are multiple layers of responsibility…places where you can pass the buck down the line, so to speak.
As a doctor, there was always another doctor ‘on call’, it was the policy of the hospital. So he’d just find excuses for the other doctor to handle the caseload. As the professor, he’d just read a chapter ahead of the students, and have them do a lot of discussion. As a pilot, he never flew…but he’d hitch rides where he wanted to go and tell the actual pilots that he wasn’t certified to operate the plane they were on.
In this interview he said it never would have worked to fake being a plumber or a carpenter or a roofer; because in those professions it’s immediately clear to anyone that you either know what you’re doing, or you don’t. (plus the money probably wasn’t as good). 🙂
So I’d like to issue a call of my own this morning.
God has called each of us to take the pieces of our lives and stitch them together into something beautiful.
He has called us to join the fellowship of Christ.
And the way I see it, Paul notes that we have been given everything we need to pursue this call. We are not lacking in any spiritual gift as we wait together for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ.
But that doesn’t mean we’re off the hook.
It’s still pretty easy to fake our faith.
Are you approaching Jesus like an honest quilter?
Or are you just after the benefits of faith, like a Frank Abagnale?
You’re the only one who can answer that question…and you’re the only one who can make the choice to change if your life is on a path that you’d rather not be on.
This is the fellowship of Christ.
We, the body of Millersburg Mennonite are but one part of the larger body, but we have been given what we need as long as we’re willing to learn from one another, coach one another, strengthen one another in our quest for Holiness.