“As it is written: ‘Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.'” 1 Corinthians 1:31
There is a book in my library titled, “The Perfectly Imperfect Church.” You would think it’s written about the church in Corinth. If there ever was a church who took the perfect plan of God and wound up with an imperfect model, it was Corinth.
If you’ve ever thought of the congregation you are a part of as beyond help or woefully short of the first century churches, you might be encouraged to know that this particular body of believers was messed up beyond description: a brother sleeping with his stepmother; members coming home from church drunk; divided into at least four factions (most would have split the church at two!); wild misuse of tongue speaking; settling disputes in the public courts; etc. It’s enough to make you feel rather proud of your church!
But important – as fouled up as they were, they were still God’s church in that city. They were still in the kingdom of God and Christ’s representatives to influence and impact their community. God doesn’t disown them nor give up on them – but rather uses the Apostle Paul to rebuke, correct and guide them in the right path.
One of their issues was one we are still tempted with. We bring too much of the “world” into our churches. Being from Corinth, a city of wealth, wickedness and wisdom, they had substituted the simple gospel for a “wisdom” of man that brought with it sin, immorality, contentious actions, worldly behaviors, Greek philosophies and a “showy” style. Question – what modern “wise” philosophies plaque our churches today? (Some are: materialism; hedonism; relativism; narcissism; authoritarianism; etc.)
The bottom line is – they were a defiled, divided and disgraced church. Paul wanted them to see the simplicity of God versus the wisdom of man. Paul wanted them to get back to the basics of the gospel – “…nothing except Jesus Christ and him crucified”. Or, as the Message Bible puts it, “I deliberately kept it plain and simple: first Jesus and who he is; then Jesus and what he did – Jesus crucified.” (1 Cor. 2:2)
If we are to boast about anything, let it be about Jesus – who he is and what he did!
Here’s the five-day reading plan for 1 Corinthians:
Day 1 – chapters 1-4 – Divisions in the church
Day 2 – chapters 5-7 – Sex, marriage and lawsuits
Day 3 – chapters 8-11 – Mid-course corrections
Day 4 – chapters 12-14 – The body of Christ, the most excellent way, and spiritual gifts
Day 5 – chapters 15-16 – The gospel and resurrection