Reflecting on 1 Corinthians
A couple years ago we preached through the challenging letter of First Corinthians. Not only does it come across with the shocking force of smelling salts, but it endures as a wonderful encouragement from the Apostle Paul to the Church of Jesus Christ. This letter is no simple read for any congregation nor is it a walk in the park as a sermon series. Pastor Randy and I were both been challenged and blessed preaching it.
First Corinthians is a letter of correction. Like any church, the Corinthians were in need of leadership and vision to help change course. Paul confronts issues within the church, which are mainly behavioral. When we act in ways inconsistent with the God we worship it betrays the gospel and our life in the Spirit. Our goal as Christians is to reflect Christ in the world, so our behavior matters.
The underlying emphasis of the letter is that a crucified Messiah is the central message of the gospel. Today we are temped like the Corinthian church to believe power displays and charisma and the impulse of our culture are the place to find significance. Incidentally, the power of the universe is found in the foolishness and weakness of a man dying on a cross. This is where all wisdom and power can be found. Furthermore, all Christian behavior conforms to the gospel standard of self-giving love. We look like the one we worship, so God’s children look like God as they give themselves away.
In my reading of First Corinthians I have notices a couple themes emerge. First, God calls a people to himself so that they might be conformed to his own likeness, reflected in the apparent weakness and folly of the cross. How do you reflect Christ the world? What power has he given you to display his love in this world? Because the cross is foolishness to our immediate culture – meaning it promotes giving oneself away even to the point of suffering, death and alienation rather than accumulating power, status, wealth, etc. for the sake of oneself – where do you find yourself called to give? Secondly, in the end he will overcome our final enemy – death – by resurrection and transformation. Do you value your body as a temple within which God lives and will bring you back to life?