It is always a bit sobering to read the first letter to the Corinthians because it is such a powerful reminder of the stark differences between God’s vision for His Body and Bride—the Church—and our human difficulties in living out His vision…
The Corinthian Church is a case study in almost everything local believers can do wrong to each other. They had split into divisive camps, justified sexual sins and those who perpetrated them, misunderstood Christian marriage, and were thoughtless towards each other concerning meals—including the Lord’s Supper. They judged each other based on the presence or absence of Spiritual gifts, didn’t display thoughtful behavior around guests or respectful behavior around each other, fell woefully short in treating each other with love, and failed to understand the power of the cross and the resurrection…
In short, the Corinthian’s were individualistic and self-centered. They failed miserably at Body Life—the Body FAITH and lifestyle that God calls us to—devolving instead to lone-rangers and small cliques of people WITHIN THE CHURCH (!) jockeying for position, putting each other down, and judging each other’s maturity and motives.
“Upon this ROCK (of revelation knowledge) I will build My Church…” Jesus NEVER reduced His Body to an individual (which Peter discovered very quickly!) and NEVER focused on personal faith as in “me, myself, and Jesus!” Instead, Jesus is building a Bride of incredible diversity and complexity that subordinates the desires of the individual to the LIFE of the Body!
He builds a Body out of individuals who submit to His Headship—to love and serve one another…!
We are Americans—accustomed to the exaltation of the individual and to distrust of every institution and body—including the church. We are Corinth—on steroids! We are therefore prone to every kind of divisive, selfish, and reckless behavior they were—with the same disastrous consequences.
Before we were Americans, however, WE ARE CHRISTIANS—called to live in and as part of a BODY that is MORE IMPORTANT than we are individually—a Body Jesus died and rose again to birth—a Body that DEMANDS we love and respect and grow IN each other—a Body that recognizes that not EVERY part must worship like Iwant to, or pray like Iwant to, or cast out demons like I want to, because there is NO ‘I” in Body! We are either in this ALL TOGETHER, or we are fooling ourselves about being “Christian.”
It is always a bit sobering to read the first letter to the Corinthians…!