1 Corinthians 1:1-9
Peace be with you!
All church communities have quirks, problems, and areas of dysfunction. There is always one group which causes drama for everyone else. Then there are the select few who unofficially make all of the decisions. There are the elders who refuse to break from traditions and the young adults who are pleading for change. There are the teens, confirmed and called full members of the church, but given no voice in how the church runs. Then there is the larger group who does the everyday stuff to keep the church open and sometimes struggle with feeling unappreciated. Lastly, there are the outsiders who come for worship and leave right away before others can say anything.
Paul writes to the church in Corinth about what is going on among its members. The letter is not the most pleasant to read, because Paul confronts Corinth on several things—for example, personality-based church factions (1:10-17), charges of sexual immorality (5), questions about lawsuits (6), proper conduct at the Lord’s Supper (11), and the interpretation of speaking in tongues (14). Since his letters were publically read and were property of the whole church, Paul had to address all of the issues so as not to single out just one group. Yet Paul opens the letter with thanksgiving for the church in Corinth. Despite its faults, Paul is thankful for the church in Corinth because the members are his brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ.
Paul acknowledges the grace of Jesus Christ, the gifts of the Corinthian church members, and the guarantee that the members will enter God’s kingdom despite their flaws.
Paul sees the power of God’s grace for a flawed and sinful church. The Gospel promise tells us no matter how much of a lost cause we were before meeting Jesus, through our baptism and communion we are forgiven and adopted into God’s family. We become sons and daughters of the heavenly Father and inherit the Kingdom of God. Instead of a sentence of judgment, we are given eternal life and loved unconditionally by the Triune God.
Churches today are filled with stories like those in Corinth. We have no business being the chosen ones. We lie, steal, deceive, and cheat. We are a mess. Yet God the Father adopts us (horns and all) as his sons and daughters and extends grace to us. We are forgiven and raised to new life daily. Jesus redeems our brokenness and proclaims us as God’s children.
Each member of the church in Corinth possessed gifts to further the work of the Triune God. Despite Corinth’s pitfalls, God still called the members to use their gifts to proclaim the good news. The broken members in the church of Corinth were a bunch of misfits with no business doing the Lord’s work, yet God equipped them with the Holy Spirit to be members of his church.
Sometimes we place limits on others and on ourselves based on the past. We say or think we cannot do [whatever “it” is] because of our brokenness. We are unworthy. We limit others and ourselves because we do not know how to share the good news without strings attached or with our own agenda. Luckily, God does not expect us to know how and understands we will mess up every now and then. For this reason, God the Father sends us the Holy Spirit to teach, lead, and lift us up.
The members of the church of Corinth and members of churches today are guaranteed Jesus will return to find us made flawless. Therefore, we are guaranteed entry into the Kingdom of God—not because we earn it but by his grace and forgiveness.
Each church has its problems. No one member has all the answers. No one church has everything figured out. We will always be somewhat dysfunctional and broken. However, through the grace and forgiveness of Jesus Christ, we are raised to new life and led by the Holy Spirit each and every day.
Thanks be to God!
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for equipping us with the gifts to do your work in the world. Help us to be your humble servants in this broken world. Lead us by the Holy Spirit to new life each and every day. Thank you for promising Jesus’ return and our entry into your kingdom. Amen.
Thanks to the Triune God – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
Please answer the following reflective questions in the comments below. Please agree to disagree and be respectful to each other. (If you have not already done so, please also take a moment, to sign the behavior covenant by commenting on it.) You can answer as many questions as you would like.
- Do we share God’s grace with one another? Or do we shame each other for our downfalls? How?
- What are your gifts? How do you use your gifts to spread the good news? Do you place limits on others and on yourself based on the past?