When you begin to read through 1 Corinthians, it is easy to see that all of it is instruction about living as an individual and in community. While looking at the Church with the Nazarene Articles of Faith, I have come to realize that most of the New Testament can be applied to this. And sometimes it takes you in directions that you would rather avoid at all cost.
Pastor appreciation: Paul begins by confronting how they have taken sides like a football game in rooting for Apollos or Paul (1 Corinthians 3). But both are working for God! Jesus is the foundation of your faith, and you can build on it with things that last, or things that do not…but the test is fire! So what in your life will last?
Ring by spring: Is it better to be married as a Christian? Despite the focus of many churches, Paul encourages single people to (gasp) stay single (1 Corinthians 7)! They can focus their attention on doing God’s work. And that kind of life may not include all the dreams and plans we like to make. What are you willing to give up?
Church rules: Have you ever been in a new church and tried to learn the rules of sitting, standing, greeting? There are also rules about how things should go, the order of service, when we eat Communion, and so on and so forth. That is how a well-run church keeps a beautiful balance of life. Except Paul threw a wrench in the mix: you’re doing it wrong! Communion is supposed to be a meal together, not a bring-your-own-picnic (1 Corinthians 11)! We need to live holy lives because we are the temple of God’s Holy Spirit! How do you show Him to the world? What rules do you need to let go or change?
Pecking order: Who is the most important person at your church? The pastor? Influential ministry people? Paul points out that God gives everyone different gifts so that by working together, everyone fulfills the roles needed for the church to function. It should bring unity, not competition (1 Corinthians 12). And time together should be orderly, not shouting over one another (1 Corinthians 14). Where do you need to recognize other’s gifts? How can you make those around you in the church look good?
Perhaps the most famous part of this letter is the section about love: how to love, when to love, who to love…Paul paints a picture of Christ’s love, and how it can grow in our hearts. As you read 1 Corinthians 13, where do you see love in your life?
God, I feel like I might as well have lived in Corinth. This book is full of hard lessons for me to hear that challenge the nice routine I have set up for my life. Where in my life do I need to change? How can I build up other people? Thank You that it is Your love that sustains me every day, not the rules or the habits. Please help me to pursue that love more and call it out in other people. I love You, Amen.
Here’s a song written from one of St. Patrick’s prayers: