Different leaders reflect different diversities of gifts and spiritual life and minister to us, so we might be renewed.
What is renewal all about? We pray for renewal but do we really know what renewal involves?
Renewal is not getting the unsaved saved. It is all about renewing the body of Christ so we may reach the world with the saving love of God. One thing is for sure, we must be receptive to God’s grace in how God move upon people’s hearts.
It is God who gives spiritual growth. Spiritually minded people know their dependence on the grace of God and will work with Him and not against Him.
If we are receptive to God’s grace, then God can accomplish something new in us and empower us to imagine new ways of living out the love of Christ.
God is love- and those who dwell in God dwell in love.
God wants us to live obedient and steadfast lives so God’s Spirit may bring freshness to our thoughts & loving actions.
When we are renewed, we dream of new possibilities instead of just living to live- we live for the One whose love and grace are beyond what we could ask or even think of.
When we experience renewal, we can better discern the challenges before us and dare to take risks as we journey with God.
In our Old Testament text of – Isaiah 5.1-7
This reading is about renewal and is actually a song, and its subject is the unfruitful vineyard.
Although the song ends sadly, it is a precursor to the time when Israel may sing a new song. The singer begins by dedicating the song to her beloved, who owns a vineyard. He carefully tills the land and plants choice vines, but instead of the excellent crop that he expects, his vines yield sour grapes. Quickly the subject changes in verse 3 from the abstract farmer to the real people of Jerusalem and Judah, who, at this point, are the listeners to the song.
The tone changes from a pretty song to a harsh detailing of what will be done to the vineyard that yields bad fruit. It will be devoured and trampled down. It will be wasted, and no rain will fall on it.
No rain means no sustenance, no possibility for growth. The song ends with verse seven and clarifies the intent of the song.
The vineyard belongs to none other than the Lord, and the vineyard is Jerusalem and Judah. God gives growth. These un-Spiritual people did not know their dependence on the grace of God and worked against God.
These people let God down. Therefore they were not dwelling in love and therefore were not dwelling in God; they behaved badly and acted unjustly. We see the anger of God manifested through this song, and the future for Israel appears doomed, with the song ending with a cry!
In our New Testament of 1 Corinthians 3.1-9
Unlike Jerusalem and Judah in our Isaiah reading, The Corinthians benefit from the Holy Spirit directly to their inner being to empower them for living. However, in their divisions over leadership, they are not acting very spiritually.
Their jealous quarrels reflect a childish immaturity and a dependence upon merely human values rather than those of the God to whom they belong (3.1-4) and whose nature they should reflect.
The Christians of Corinth are making so much fuss that they have forgotten the one God who brought the Church to life and gave them growth.
Paul and Apollos are nothing more than gardeners in God’s vineyard, builders, of God’s temple, working together for a common purpose and answering to the one they serve.
The lesson here is that we should esteem no other human being to the point that one would prefer one leader over another and call themselves disciples of that leader. Paul is pointing out that we should be disciples of Christ- and of one else.
Paul also emphasises that he and Apollos are just human, just like them, with needs, with sins, and with joys and sorrows. And their job as leaders is to point the way to salvation through Christ and disciple people to Jesus Christ and not to themselves.
Your Kingdom Come
To tend the Kingdom as a gardener is about ploughing, planting, watering, weeding and tending the Kingdom ready for growth. But it is God who makes it grow; none of us can do that.
Or, like a builder of God’s temple- as a mere employee of God – if you will- to do His bidding.
It is God the Father who we must esteem. Therefore, we need to stop arguing over which leader is better than another. The reality is that all of us bring different things according to God’s grace and timing.
The apostle Paul said he planted seeds in hearts, and then Apollos came along and watered that seed.
So, here are two different ministries, two different personalities, and two different callings, yet both are gardeners in God’s Vineyard or builders of God’s temple.
Different leaders reflect each of our own different diversities and spiritual life and minister to them.
For example, what would happen to the seed if Paul came along and sowed seeds and no one watered?
What would happen if Apollos came along and watered, but there was no seed to water?
There would be no garden- no kingdom.
What would happen if Paul made the concrete for the stones to be laid in the temple and Apollos was not there to lay the stones- What would happen? There would be no temple – no kingdom.
Something to Think About
What other lessons can we learn from these texts?
Perhaps it realises that we need “solid food” to learn together how to leave behind worldly ways of thinking in our calling as a church and, in doing so, become genuinely renewed as spiritual people.
Paul tried to fire the imagination of the Corinthians; he tried to inspire them to “have the mind of Christ”.
Paul tells them, “you are God’s Field”. Here, Paul shows the importance of his Jewish heritage by drawing from the images in Isaiah 5 1-7, which our OT is reading today.
In Isaiah, it is God who plants the vineyard, and it is God who sends the rain to give new life.
Paul’s own work of founding the Church in Corinth and the subsequent work of Apollos, who immensely helped people to become believers (acts 18:27), was no less the work of the one God who alone gives the growth and who alone is worshipped and adored.
God gives us growth. It is Father God who empowers us to grow.
So, let us be like those who really know their dependence on the grace of God, thus be renewed in the process.
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