After establishing the proto-church in Corinth, Paul moves on to spread the good news to other communities. But he stays in touch. The epistles, like this one, are Paul’s correspondence to the early churches he helps start. In these letters he generally encourages the new community and answers specific questions that arise. We don’t have the other half of this written conversation, but we can deduce the issues by Paul’s responses.
In this portion of his first letter to the church in Corinth, Paul addresses a divided community. There appears to be a growing schism between two factions. Paul asserts his authority while empowering the whole community of believers. He does not get into a petty dispute with Apollos but rather lifts up his work and calls on the whole community to be united in Christ.
Paul’s epistles are proof of his continued love for the communities he forms. He loves them so much that he doesn’t care who takes credit for them. In this letter, Paul is not upset that some Corinthians favor Apollos over him; he cares that they treat one another with love, as exemplified by Jesus. Paul’s focus is not glory for himself but faith in Christ.
The love for God that burns in Paul’s heart drives him to travel the world, spreading the good news and establishing communities in the way of Christ Jesus. It is this same burning love that motivates him to stay in contact with these communities when he moves on to spread the gospel elsewhere.
God the Great Artist, lift up all of our divided and broken places. Transform them into a great mosaic crafted from your love, a witness to the beauty of our faithfulness to your work in our hearts. Amen.
This week we continue to explore the importance of Christian morality. We do not earn God’s grace by our actions; rather, our obedience is a response to God’s grace. In Deuteronomy, we read that the choice of life will bring prosperity and is the proper response from a heart of gratitude. The psalmist echoes this sentiment, for blessed are those who follow the Lord not just with words but also with actions. The Corinthians have not understood this so they continue to act like those in the world around them, living by the flesh instead of by the Spirit. Jesus pushes us even further. God sees not only what we do on the outside but who we are on the inside. A true life of obedience begins on the inside and flows outward.
Read Deuteronomy 30:15-20. When have you experienced the choice God sets before us of life or death, prosperity or adversity, blessings or curses? How have you discerned how to obey God?
Read Psalm 119:1-8. How does following God’s commandments bring you joy?
Read 1 Corinthians 3:1-9. Consider the forms of love Paul and Saint Valentine display in their letters. What types of love help you serve God, who gives growth?
Read Matthew 5:21-37. When have you experienced legalistic interpretations of scripture? How do you get to the heart of scripture?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
View a growing list of resources for the spiritual work of overcoming racism.