I find Paul’s letters to the Corinthians so helpful for three reasons…
The early church was not perfect – it shows us that the early church had struggles like we do,
The early church was nevertheless fruitful – growing exponentially,
It is therefore all about Jesus and what He does in and through us.
Paul writes to the church of God – the called out ones, the assembly of God in a locality. They are sanctified in Christ Jesus – note the tense. Even though they were a messed up and pretty sinful bunch – their identity is that they are saints “holy ones”, who are sanctified by Jesus. It’s all about Jesus!
What we need most is in v3 – grace and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Next Paul proceeds to let them know what he has been praying for them. He gives thanks to God for them, the most troublesome church in his apostolic sphere.
Paul is thanking God for the sinful bunch of rebels who had betrayed his trust, for a church that was riddled with division, pride and puffed up human wisdom, for Christians suing each other and shocking neighbours with their sexual perversion. Who were disorderly in worship, dishonouring the gifts and drunk at the Lord’s supper. Who were led astray by false teachers and had started doubting the resurrection. He thanks God for them, because of “his grace given to you in Christ Jesus.”
Then in v10, he can start addressing the issues, the first of which is division in the church. People are prone to hero-worship and the Corinthians are just the same – some preferring Paul to Apollos or Cephas. Paul appeals to them to stop it! To stop being cliquey, to stop splitting into factions over their favourite preacher. He then goes on to explain that it is not one preacher being wiser than another. Because it is not about the eloquence or wisdom of preachers, but the power of the foolishness of the cross of Christ.
To the unsaved – the idea that God dies on a cross is foolishness. But it was God’s utter amazing wisdom. Paul knows that Jews looked for signs and wonders and Greeks loved their wisdom. The cross and resurrection is foolishness to both, but actually the most powerful sign and wonder and the most wise act ever!
So Jesus, who were in, becomes for us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption – now there are four power packed words of wisdom that change us.
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