When you compare the leaders of world religions, it’s clearly a no-contest. Only Jesus lives. The rest are dead. And the evidence for this resruuection of Jesus is something that the Apostle Paul was keen to share with the church at Corinth. So in 1 Corinthians 15:1-11, Paul did just that, reminded his readers of not only the information that had been passed down to him personally, but also of his own experience (not to mention that of at least 500 others) of the risen Christ. But this message of the resruuection is not just fact, it is fact that leads to a changed life and a living hope in the face of death.
There’s something about love that means that thousands of songs are written about it and everyone seems to want it! In 1 Corinthians 13:1-13, the Apostle Paul speaks about love quite extensively in a well-known text that has been used at many a wedding, but what he has to say really applies in the first instance to the church at Corinth, who had forgotten that the grace of love is better than any spiritual gift. And what he wrote was really for the church to put into practise – in loving each other – and loving in the way that Jesus loved the church, by laying down His life for her. Ultimately, our lack of love or lovelessness, is because we have moved far away from the cross – where we learn what love really is.
There’s no doubt that the human body is a wonderful invention. The fact that we can move, breathe, talk, eat sleep, is so often taken for granted. So much has to happen for everything to work together. If the church is the ‘body of Christ’ as 1 Corinthians 12:14-31 indicates, then it’s likely that the same holds true. Every part of the body not only has its own place but its own purpose and function. And every part of the body, each individual in the body is linked to the One who is the Head of the body for His purposes. That’s the wonder of being part of ‘the Church’, which exists for His glory and not that of the individual parts!
The Church. What is it? Some say a building. This is true, but only one aspect of the answer. The idea of the Church being a ‘body’ is found in the New Testament, especially in 1 Corinthians 12:1-13. The church is made up of individuals, all saved by grace, and all united to the one Head (Jesus) who brings us together and makes us part of His body. It’s this that unites us and this unity should be evident to the whole world throughout all generations as witness to the the one truth, ‘Jesus is Lord’.
There’s little doubt that 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 is a difficult text that over the years has been interpreted and applied in many ways. But, as difficult as it is to grasp at first glance, the text must be and is there for a good reason. It seems there was a fair bit of confusion in Corinth about gender roles (is anything new?) and this seems to be at the heart of Paul’s words – which apply to us today in the realm of what you have in your heart, rather than what you do or don’t wear on your head.
Throughout the letter of Paul to the church at Corinth there have been many indicators that the church was not in a healthy state. Divisions, jealousies, sexual immorality, pride and idolatry were evidenced in their behaviour and these were symptoms that something was wrong. In 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 it is evident that Paul had to write to them as he did because these symptoms were begiining to appear at the Lord’s table and it was bringing premature judgment upon them. In diagnosing the problem and prescribing the solution, the Apostle brings us also back to how we should prepare ourselves to appear at the Lord’s table, lest we become like them and bring judgement upon ourselves.
There’s no doubt that food speaks a universal language. We all love it and we all enjoy eating it together. But what happens when the food that we would like to eat has been used in a worship service for a pagan god? This was one of the questions that the believers at Corinth were asking Paul, questions that all relate back to what Paul had already begun to speak of in chapter 8. But in 1 Corinthians 10:14-31, they have this added element… the Lord God will not share His glory with another. Eating is nothing in itself, but all that we do – even our eating and drinking – must be for His glory and His alone.
Hindsight is such a wonderful thing. It enables everyone to be wiser…’if only I had done this instead of that’….but hindisght only works when looking back and never looking forward. As Paul continued to direct the believers at Corinth in the way they should live, after pointing them to his example, he also pointed to examples in the pages of the Old Testament, where God’s people went wrong and faced the Lord’s discipline (severe at times) upon them. These things were written for us, not for them. What happened to them is for our warning, instruction…and even encouragement!
After establishing that Paul ‘practiced what he preached’ with regard to not making his full use of his rights as an apostle, in the next verses, 1 Corinthians 9:19-27, Paul continued to explain how he had made it a principle of life to win people for Christ and maintain his own place in the race toward the finish line through self-discipline by laying aside rights and pursuing responsibilities. Paul’s example before the Corinthians and before us is something that needs to consider well. Are you too, aiming to win people for Christ? Are you too running the race of following Jesus with all your effort? There’s only one race worth being in – because every other race will something that will end up turning to dust..
It’s not always an easy thing to practice what you preach. Sooner or later, someone will point out your hypocrisy. After telling the church in Corinth to put the law of love over the principle of freedom and liberty, the Apostle Paul found it necessary to let the believers in Corinth know that this was a principle that he himself had already put into practice. In 1 Corinthians 9:1-18, as Paul defends his ministry and his actions, he makes it clear that he was one who ‘practiced what he preached’. Could the same be said of you?