For the next few weeks we’ll be looking at the first four chapters of 1 Corinthians. Out of all the churches in the New Testament, I think the church in Corinth is the closest to the Western church today in terms of the issues it faced: without the immediate threat of persecution to bind them together, it was easy for them to act out the values of the surrounding culture among the church community. They were divided and status-seeking; they were judgemental about matters of style but often carefree when it came to morality. Sound familiar? Let’s see what Paul has to say to this church…
Yesterday we began a series in 1 Corinthians 1-4, looking at Paul’s letter to a church divided. We saw how even in his opening thanksgiving he was laying the groundwork for his appeal for unity. Given what God has done for us in Jesus, how can we not be united!
Today, we look more closely at the reasons the Corinthian church was divided. And as we do, we’ll keep an ear out for how we might do similar things today.
This week we began a series in 1 Corinthians 1-4, about a divided church. We saw yesterday how they were divided around leaders – specifically, their style of preaching. And we thought about how we do this in our own “entertain-me” culture. (Make sure you read that one first or today won’t make much sense.)
Today,we step back and look at how this is one particular instance of a much broader issue – one that runs throughout this letter to the Corinthians. It’s the issue of when we bring the world’s values into the church.
In our series through 1 Cor 1-4 so far we’ve seen how the Corinthians were divided. The wealthier members were trying to display their sophistication and importance by hosting the most eloquent Christian speakers. They were still trying to play the world’s game, but doing it in the church. They were attaching themselves to the various speakers like a fashion accessory; a way of promoting their own image to the world.
In our series through 1 Cor 1-4 we have seen how Paul refuses to play the world’s status games. In Corinth he didn’t try to impress them with the kind of eloquent public speaking they esteemed, which had a negative effect on how they perceived him. Yesterday, we saw Paul begin to defend his approach, showing how God refuses to play our status games, too. We see this firstly in the gospel of a crucified saviour, which is “foolishness” in human eyes (1:18-25).
But not only does God refuse to pander to human pretensions. It seems he also prefers to do his work through the un-pretentious. Through ordinary people, who aren’t trying to pretend to be something better than they are.