Monday

For we are God’s servants, working together; you are God’s field, God’s building. (v. 9)

1 Corinthians 3:1-9 Monday 6 May 2019

Psalm: Psalm 121

Background

Where was Paul as he sat writing these words to the community in Corinth? Was he, perhaps, in the house of a friend, watching small children being fed and noticing how they ‘graduated’ from milk on to something more solid? Looking out the window, did he see gardeners caring for vegetables or flowers, planting and watering them? Was a building project in progress somewhere close by (vs. 10-15)? Whatever the case, the images here are immediate and familiar. His readers would have recognised and identified with them.

Like children in a playground, this community had divided into rival groups, following different leaders and quarrelling among themselves. The unity they should have been experiencing in their faith in Jesus Christ was in danger of splintering into factions. They needed to be drawn together again. Those they were following had, for them, taken on more importance than the one to whom they pointed – Jesus himself. This, in a wider community of many faiths and philosophies, was dangerous for both individual believers and for the young church.

The tone of this passage is one of gentle reasonableness – Paul clearly cared deeply for this challenging community of new believers. Some scholars believe that he may have written to them up to four times. He wanted them to listen and the way to achieve that was not by ‘shouting’ and remonstrating, but by quietly and evocatively pointing them beyond those to whom they had become fiercely loyal and to God.

Today’s church has much to learn from Paul’s words to the Christians in Corinth. We too live in a time of competing cultures and philosophies, a time when it not easy to live a life of Christian faith. In this environment, we need each other both as individual Christians and as churches; unity in the faith (which is not necessarily uniformity) is the foundation from which we may engage most effectively with the missio dei, the mission of God.

 

To Ponder:

  • Think about a time when you may have put your church allegiance before your allegiance to Jesus. How were you able to put that right?
  • How important are charismatic leaders in the church? Is there a danger that, sometimes, they may stand between the disciple and the Master?
  • How important do you think it is that Christians come closer to each other across the churches?
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