1 Corinthians 3:1-9
1Brothers and sisters, I could not speak to you as spiritual people, but rather as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. 2I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for solid food. Even now you are still not ready, 3for you are still of the flesh. For as long as there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving according to human inclinations? 4For when one says, “I belong to Paul,” and another, “I belong to Apollos,” are you not merely human?
5What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you came to believe, as the Lord assigned to each. 6I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 8The one who plants and the one who waters have a common purpose, and each will receive wages according to the labor of each. 9For we are God’s servants, working together; you are God’s field, God’s building.
As we contemplate Spiritual Growth today, in light of St. Paul’s teaching that GOD GIVES GROWTH, the following are thoughts that I have put together at the back of our bulletin to help us contemplate practices to be better disciples of Jesus.
FIVE PRACTICES TO BECOME A BETTER DISCIPLE OF JESUS
Regular Worship Attendance
Attending worship as often as you can helps to keep you grounded in the gathered community and the ways in which God chooses to make Godself known specifically: the Word and the Sacraments. Certainly one can have a relationship with the Living God in one’s personal life – it is hoped that you do! But receiving the assurance of the forgiveness of sins through Confession & Absolution and receiving of the Body and Blood of Jesus is what shapes us as disciples. From the earliest church, we read in the Book of Acts, “. . . they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” (Acts 2:42). We continue in that practice even today. Worship at Trinity is offered each Sunday @ 10:30 a.m. and Tuesday @ 7:00 p.m.
Reading from God’s Word in the Bible
One cannot help but be shaped by regular reading of the bible. As Daniel Erlander states in Baptized We Live, the Word of God woos us by telling us how much God in Christ loves us. Reformed theologian, Karl Barth, defined religion as humanity’s attempt to reach up to God and the Beyond. Conversely, he saw Christianity as primarily about God’s reaching down to humanity in the Incarnation (“God in the flesh”) of the Life, Teachings, Death and Resurrection of Jesus. If one wants to be a disciple of Jesus, one needs to be embraced by the message and story of Jesus found in the bible. One can find the bible complicated and reading it alone can be intimidating. Thus there are devotionals, bible study, opportunities for conversation with other disciples to assist. Here at Trinity we have Spanish language conversations and our Tuesday night Contemplative worship, where lively conversation on biblical texts is always a part of our gathering.
Prayer and Meditation
Taking time for quiet in the midst of the cacophony of sounds is essential for a disciple life. Our model is Jesus himself. “And after (Jesus) had taken leave of (the disciples), he went up on the mountain to pray.” (Mark 6:46). Sometimes, one needs to turn off one’s cellphone and conversations with others and just be quiet and allow one’s spirit to commune with the Spirit of the Living God. Prayer is both speaking and listening. Pouring one’s heart out to God (in thanksgiving, in pain, for guidance) is a healthy way to express what is going on with us and not keep it “bottled up.” After we do this, being quiet and breathing deeply allows us to be in God’s presence in a powerful way. For help with this practice, speak to anyone on the Trinity Prayer Team, coordinated by Lisa Canellas.
Giving Back Financially for God’s ministry in the world
Everything we have is from God. We don’t own a thing, not even the clothes on our back. They are gifted to us from God our loving Parent. God gives us the freedom to use these gifts for our livelihood and to enjoy the wonders of creation. In grateful response to God’s abundance, disciples are called to give back to God through charitable organizations (including one’s local faith community/church) to the mission and ministry of God bring hope and physical relief to God’s children around the world. In speaking about a ministry of presence: feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, welcoming the stranger, clothing the naked visiting the sick and imprisoned – Jesus says in Matthew’s gospel: “Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:40) Jesus is FOUND as one of the “least of these.” Our financial giving doesn’t just “pay the bills” of Trinity, but provides chaplains for the military, in hospitals and prisons and college campuses, brings missionaries all around the world, digs wells, builds houses, starts new congregations, etc.
Giving of ourselves through acts of mercy
As Matthew 25 states, we are called to “do unto the least of these.” For those who participate in things like Community Supper, or working for Habitat for Humanity or in a soup kitchen/food pantry, they often report that, as they give, so they are ministered to as well. Noah ben Shea states in Jacob the Baker that “giving gives me an open hand.” When we give of ourselves, we are open to receiving blessings for our loving God, over and over again. One way to keep from despair is to give back through acts of kindness and mercy. Soon, Trinity will have a social worker on site to help us not only give provide services to the greater Astoria/Long Island City community, but hopefully help us identify other services/programs that we can provide, and participate in, to bring God’s mercy in tangible ways, to our neighborhood.
Regular worship, reading the bible, prayer & meditation, financial giving and engaging in acts of mercy/kindness are ways to strengthen your relationship with God and become a better disciple of Jesus!