The Beauty of the Body of Christ.
1 Corinthians 1:1-9
Through him, God has enriched your church in every way—with all of your eloquent words and all of your knowledge. – 1 Corinthians 1:5 NLT
One of the mistakes we make when reading the letters of Paul is to take every personal pronoun and make it personal. So every time we read the word “you,” we believe he is talking to us as individuals. But in most cases, Paul uses a plural personal pronoun. That’s because most of his letters were written to churches, not individuals. In this case, he was writing to the believers in Corinth – all those individuals who made up the corporate body of Christ in that city. So his words are to be taken in a corporate context. But because of our intense individualism as western Christians we attempt to make it all about us – or better yet, me. We read these verses as individuals and fail to see the community focus of Paul’s words. I like the way the New Living Translation renders verse 5. It reads, “God has enriched your church in every way…” In this letter, Paul is addressing the issue of spiritual gifts. He wants the Corinthian believers to know that they have been given spiritual gifts as individual believers, but they are intended and designed for use within the body of Christ. Those gifts were meant to be used to enhance life within the community. My spiritual gift is not for me, but for the benefit of others with whom I live as part of the body of Christ.
In verse 7, Paul makes it clear that he is talking about spiritual gifts when he writes, “Now you have every spiritual gift you need as you eagerly wait for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The body of Christ in Corinth had been blessed by God with a full assortment of spiritual gifts, given by God to enhance their community and encourage their spiritual growth and vitality. Even when Paul writes, “He will keep you strong to the end so that you will be free from all blame on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns” (1 Corinthians 1:8 NLT), he has a community focus in mind. Through the proper use of their spiritual gifts, God would keep the body there in Corinth strong until the Lord returned. Paul knew that their spiritual well-being and health was dependent on the proper use of their gifts. There were abuses of the spiritual gifts going on in Corinth and Paul was going to address them, but he wanted them to understand from the outset that the gifts were God-given and designed to be life-giving – to the community. A healthy body is one in which all the members are performing their intended task faithfully and with the overall well-being of the body in mind. There is no place for selfishness or self-centeredness within the body.
Father, how easy it is to make it all about me. We are wired to think about ourselves and to neglect the needs of others. Our instincts of self-preservation and survival have allowed us to misunderstand the spiritual life. We make it an individual pursuit and fail to recognize that You intended it to be a corporate experience – a team sport. As we read through the letter to the Corinthians, remind us again of the power of the gifts used in the context of community as You designed them to be used. Amen.
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men