1 Corinthians | Unified in Christ
Paul has a tender affection for the Corinthians. They hold a special place in his heart. And although he has rebuked them for their sinful, shameful behavior, he also wants to see them flourish in their faith. So as their spiritual father, he uses all of the resources at his disposal to set them on the right track. He urges the Corinthians to follow his example in living out the Christian life.
In the presence of growing divisiveness and factionalism within the church at Corinth, Paul addresses the issue fueling it all- the Corinthians' pride. Using sound reasoning and at times biting sarcasm, Paul equips the Corinthians with the tools and resources necessary to kill their pride.
In 1st Corinthians 3, Paul, like a master physician, properly diagnoses the spiritual condition of the believers in Corinth. Although they were converted years ago, they remain 'infants in Christ' because they are filled with pride and jealousy and have absorbed the values and priorities of the culture around them. They are largely, immature disciples of Christ. So Paul rebukes them, addresses the root of their pride and calls them to maturity. Through Paul, we are challenged to shed our worldly ways and press on to maturity in Christ.
In 1 Corinthians Chapter 2 we see how and why the mind and thoughts of the believer must necessarily and fundamentally be different than those outside the church if we are to grow in our sanctification and live in keeping with our high calling as sons and daughters of God.
The cross of Christ turns the wisdom of man upside down. Victory is won by giving up life, not taking it. Shame is removed by God identifying with the shamed and dying a shameful death. God leads through shame to glory and honor. And to some this is pure folly. But to those who believe, it is the power of God. The message of the cross is indiscriminate. It is offered to all, regardless of race, gender, socioeconomic status or pedigree. Therefore, the gospel creates a new diverse people, united by the gospel. And everyone who responds to the gospel with belief, does so because of the sheer mercy and grace of God. Therefore, there is no room for boasting in ourselves. All our boasting must be in the kindness of God.
This week we begin a new sermon series in the book of First Corinthians. The letter to the church at Corinth is an appeal to a divided church to return to unity in and around the gospel of Jesus Christ. Like in so many churches today, factions and divisions arose which set parts of the body against other parts. Paul uses his apostolic authority and wisdom to restore them to being of one mind and one accord. Paul teaches that when the church looks to its author and Savior, Jesus and unites themselves in the message and work of the cross, they will experience sweet harmony and like-mindedness, making them even more fruitful in God's Kingdom.