Tuesday July 28th, 2015
The Father's Faithfulness Is Greater Than My Disciples' Failures
Note from Jesus
While Paul was in Ephesus, he wrote a letter to the Corinthians to follow-up on his time in Corinth. Your book of 1 Corinthians is actually his second letter to them (1 Corinthians 5:9). The new believers in Corinth lived in a seaport city on a narrow strip of land with water on two sides. A major highway ran through their city. This strategic location is a powerful reminder of the important influence I wanted My disciples to have in Corinth. Although they were surrounded by immorality, My new disciples were strategically located in a place to impact the world of commerce, travel, and religion with the truth of My gospel.
Becoming a disciple in such a place was far easier than living as a disciple on a daily basis. Strong forces pulled on My followers. City life in Corinth included all sorts of distractions. Unrestrained immorality and materialism were accepted as the normal way of life. Corrupt religious practices, cult prostitution, religious enthusiasm, rivalry over social status, passionate individualism, battles over gender superiority, racial diversity, bigotry, and genuine poverty filled Corinth's streets. You won't have to dig very far into Paul's letters to the Corinthians to discover that My new followers in Corinth struggled with each of these challenges.
One of the qualities about 1 and 2 Corinthians that makes these letters so important for you today is that My disciples in Corinth had many problems that are also typical of your time. As you read through Paul's letters to the Corinthians, you might wonder how this fragile and diverse set of house churches could survive. They had rivalries over which group was most acceptable and important. Conflicts and disrespect between men and women impacted their worship and daily lives. Incest in at least one family and other forms of sexual immorality marred the character of these people who were seeking to make Me their Lord. Lawsuits between members tore at the fabric of their unity. Disregard of poor members by the rich members during their love feast meal destroyed the character of what was supposed to be Holy Communion. Some were getting drunk and gorging on food while others were being totally left out of the fellowship because they were still at work. Petty rivalries over spiritual gifts caused arguments over who was most spiritual. Some had even lost faith in My resurrection. The result was a large pagan city with several house churches of believers who felt that they had little in common with each other except that they called on My name and called themselves My followers.
Today, however, I want you to notice the way the apostle Paul began this letter. Notice particularly the highlighted parts of the scripture below. First, remember that every person born of water and spirit (John 3:3-7; Titus 3:3-7; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11) has a special relationship with Me. The new believers lived in a region torn by division, corrupted by immorality, and lost in darkness. Those around them had lost hope in the future and so they lived for the moment. In this kind of world, everyone who is My follower must be regarded as especially precious. This context is true even if that person has strayed from the truth or has never fully understood the truth. Remember my parable of the shepherd who went in search of his lost sheep (Matthew 18:10-14; Luke 15:4-7) and other similar parables that talk about My desire to reclaim those who are Mine (e.g., Luke 15:8-31).
The Corinthian house churches struggled with division and immorality. Paul knew all about their problems. Their problems created great anguish and concern in his heart for them. He had invested over two years of his life to converting and discipling them. He knew how fragile their fellowship was. He was fully aware of how far their daily lives were from the high calling that I had for them. Yet — and please hear this beloved — each of My disciples, no matter how flawed, was still precious to Paul and to Me. There were still reasons to rejoice in these people who gave up so much to follow Me. Paul still had great reasons to give thanks for them and to continue to pray for them.
Also, notice the undergirding faith that gave Paul hope. He believed that something good could come out of the messes the Corinthians had made of their lives and their fellowship. Paul believed that the future of their fellowship was not bound by their current failures but rooted in the Father's faithfulness.
Let the words found in the central part of the verses below remind you of the truth that you must never forget:
He [God the Father] will preserve you; and on that day, He will consider you faultless. Count on this: God is faithful and in His faithfulness called you out into an intimate relationship with His Son, our Lord Jesus the Anointed [Me].
Verses to Live
Paul acknowledged the divisions in My Corinthian disciples shortly after affirming how precious they were to him. His words of affirmation come first as he declares his confidence in Our ability to be faithful and to bring them to be with Us. So don't forget to rejoice over those who have come to Me. Don't forget Paul's example of working with the Corinthians, and believe that We can do more than human eyes can see and human hearts can imagine (Ephesians 3:14-21)!
Paul, called out by God's will to be an emissary for Jesus the Anointed, along with brother Sosthenes, to God's church gathering in the city of Corinth. As people who are united with Jesus, the Anointed One, you have been set apart for service. You are all called into community to live as saints with all who invoke the name of our Lord Jesus, the Anointed.
I pray that God our Father and the Lord Jesus, the Anointed One, will shower you with grace and peace.
I am continuously thanking my God for you when I think about the grace God has offered you in Jesus the Anointed. In this grace, God is enriching every aspect of your lives by gifting you with the right words to say and everything you need to know. In this way, your life story confirms the life story of the Anointed One, so you are not ill-equipped or slighted on any necessary gifts as you patiently anticipate the day when our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One, is revealed. Until that final day, He will preserve you; and on that day, He will consider you faultless. Count on this: God is faithful and in His faithfulness called you out into an intimate relationship with His Son, our Lord Jesus the Anointed.
My brothers and sisters, I urge you by the name of our Lord Jesus, the Anointed, to come together in agreement. Do not allow anything or anyone to create division among you. Instead, be restored, completely fastened together with one mind and shared judgment. I have heard troubling reports from Chloe's people that you, my siblings, are consumed by fighting and petty disagreements. What I have heard is that each of you is taking sides, saying, "I am with Paul," or "I am with Apollos," or "I am with Cephas," or "I am with the Anointed One." Has the Anointed One been split up into many small pieces? Do you think Paul was crucified for you? Were you ceremonially washed through baptism into the name of Paul? Absolutely not!
Now I am thankful that I baptized only Crispus and Gaius, so none of you can falsely declare you were baptized in my name. Now wait, as I think about it, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; if there are others in your community whom I baptized, I cannot recall at this moment. The mission given to me by the Anointed One is not about baptism, but about preaching good news. The point is not to impress others by spinning an eloquent, intellectual argument; that type of rhetorical showboating would only nullify the cross of the Anointed.
(1 Corinthians 1:1-17)