Beginning with this post I will be spending a lot of time in the books of 1st and 2nd Corinthians. My Bible study and I are going through these challenging books together and I will try to post on each of the chapters in the books. I will not be writing about everything that is covered in each chapter. Rather, I'll try to write about something from each chapter. I hope you enjoy this walk through 1st and 2nd Corinthians.
Please take time to read chapter one of 1st Corinthians.
"I always thank God for you because of His grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in Him you have been enriched in every way... in all your speaking and in all your knowledge... because our testimony about Christ was confirmed in you. Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly await for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, who has called you into fellowship with His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful."
1st Corinthians 1:4-9
In this, the opening of Paul's first letter to the Corinthians, he spent time giving thanks for the church at Corinth. This is amazing, especially when you consider what Paul had to deal with in this church. Corinth was a wicked city. It was full of mystery religions where you were devoted to the person who converted you. They had 26 places in town devoted to some sort of god. They had more than a dozen temples that employed thousands of temple prostitutes. In fact, the term "Corinthian girl" was slang throughout the Roman world for prostitute. Not only this but the church itself was full of infighting, immorality, people suing each other, people getting drunk at communion, and more.
Paul gave thanks for this church! I think that gives all of us the ability to give thanks to God for our church.
Paul says, "... you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed."
When most of us read this we think, "Awesome! I don't lack any spiritual gift!" To be honest, I've read those words and thought the exact same thing most of my life. But I think this interpretation is wrong.
Last night as we were reading this passage my wife made a great point. In a nutshell she said that Paul wasn't talking about individuals, rather he was saying that the church at Corinth lacked no spiritual gift.
Aha! That makes much more sense. In fact, that is the way most people across the world will read it. We Americans/Westerners love our individuality. The U.S. Army's slogan was "Army of One", we love D.I.Y. projects, we love individuality to the point that we have forgotten to know our neighbors. But this passage is not talking about us alone, but about this local church.
See, Paul was thanking God for them because God had given them every spiritual gift they needed to stay strong until the end. We can thank God because He has given our local churches this too. I don't think this is a passage that applies to the church at Corinth only. This passage applies to my church and yours, too.
So, we need to stop thinking that A) we can do it alone and B) that our church is not good enough.
First, we can't do it alone. Only together do we have the collective spiritual gifts to stay strong to the end. We need each other to persevere. You need the local church. I need the local church. Staying faithful to Jesus is a community project.
Second, quit comparing your church to another. "Our church is okay but our worship team does sound like the church in the city" "My church is nice but we don't pack an arena full of people". Statements like this only keep us from enjoying what God has given us. He has given our local churches everything they need.
And get this, "God, who has called you into fellowship with His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful". This means that when God says we lack nothing He is faithful to make His statement true because He is faithful and cannot lie.
So, whether your local church is big or small... Baptist or Lutheran... give thanks to God for it. After you're done giving thanks go out there and with your church make a difference in the Kingdom because together you lack no spiritual gift today.