God is Setting All Things Right. So I am Blogging Through the Bible in a Year.

Friday, November 29, 2013

November 29 - 1 Corinthians 1-4: Loyalty to Theologians with a Slick Theology

Today’s Reading: 1 Corinthians 1-4

The Message

English Standard Version

Thought to Guide Your Reading

The Corinthian church fought over theologians and lived in a city that thought their Message was ludicrous.

Summary in 100 Words or Less

Paul to God's church in Corinth:
Though God will never give up on you, you must stop fighting!
The Gospel seems ludicrous to outsiders, but God turns worldly wisdom into nonsense. Think about it, everything you have comes through Jesus.
God's Spirit worked through me—an inarticulate man—to help set your relationships right.
God gives His Plan to everyone when they commune with Him. That is why you frustrate me with how you treat each other.
Preachers are guides into God's Kingdom. I don’t care what you think of me. Only He is willing to guide us to maturity.

How Today’s Reading Contributes to the Gospel: God is Setting All Things Right

Paul begins the letter to the Corinthians by reminding them that God will never give up on them.

If a letter starts by reminding you that God will never give up on you, you know two things: 1) God will never give up on you (obviously!) and 2) What comes next is going to be a long list of things you messed up. Before we get into this book we need to remember, no matter how bad we mess up, God will never give up on us!
Today's reading comes at a great time. Yesterday I wrote at length about how we should be have a more humble attitude when discussing the differences between the churches of Christ and other denominations. I have had other difficult things to say which may lead a person to think I do not like my tradition or that I want to leave it. Many people in my generation have come to the same conclusions I have and have left jaded or bitter against us. Instead of leaving, I want us to realize we are like the Corinthians because we have many problems, but we are also like the Corinthians because God will never give up on us. We can become a group of people setting all things right if we remember that God will never give up on us, even if we have a laundry list of problems.

The Corinthian church elevated their theological influences higher than their relationships with their fellow Christians.

This section reminds me of something the Restoration Movement got right, at least we did for a while. As a student at a seminary, I noticed several factions within the denominational world—Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Azusa Street, African, Asian, Catholic, etc. These groups all had their favorite theologians and pitted them against each other. Paul wanted the Corinthians to remember that all theologians are servants of the Originator of the Message they preach. Don't focus on the servant. Focus on the God!

The Gospel seems silly to those who are "wise".

The Corinthians lived in a very educated, sophisticated culture which wanted either magic tricks to shock the crowds into believing (the Jews) or seamless arguments proving a tight theology (the Greeks). God's Message included neither of those things. Instead, He used a non-efficient method to spread a non-convincing Message—non-educated people teaching other non-educated people how to set things right because God came down and allowed Himself to become a brutal sacrifice. The truth is, neither magic tricks nor perfect, rational theology convinces a person to change. Only the words of a friend will truly convict a person to change. God uses an unlikely method to spread His unattractive Message—friends. Paul wanted to be impressive but failed. Instead, he allowed God's Spirit to convict others and great things happened. Paul wants them use that method of spreading God's Message. The Message itself is not slick. It's messy. It's tough. It doesn't sound very theological. It isn't easy to believe. Yet God's Message has gone throughout most of the world and no one can stop it. It requires a lot of faith because something you gain easily you lose easily.

God spreads His Plans for the world when we commune with Him.

God wants to tell the world what He is doing. He also wants them to listen. For that reason, He waits until they are willing to commune with Him before He lets them in on His Plan. When we commune with God, we learn how the world works.

Do you believe God will never give up on you?

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