A second parenthesis – Fairness and Faith
Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians continually brings up the contrast between the values of the kingdom of the world and the values that Christians commit to live by. We are physically in this world, but we are called to live in the Kingdom of God. Because the two kingdoms are engaged in a spiritual war, conflict down here is unavoidable. In the early Church, that conflict manifested itself as persecution. Out and out persecution is rare in our lives here in the US, but that doesn’t mean the conflict of values is not taking place in subtler ways. In fact, the latter can be more deadly because it can be hard to detect.Read More › about A second parenthesis – Fairness and Faith
A parenthesis about Persecution: Are today’s Christians different from first century Christians?
Paul’s rebuke to the believers in the Corinthian Church, in 1 Corinthians 4:9-13, gives me pause. If you are like me, before (re)reading this epistle you already knew that there were problems in that Church; including some rather scandalous sins. Therefore, since we know better than to get into that kind of trouble, it is easy to slip into the role of observers as we read the letter; to think it is all about them not us. But Jesus already warned us against that mentality that sees the speck in my brother’s eye but is ignorant of the utility pole stuck in my own. So, if I take Jesus’ words to heart, how do I respond to Pauls’ rebuke?Read More › about A parenthesis about Persecution: Are today’s Christians different from first century Christians?
A reasonable doctrine (5): The Corinthians’ stumbling stone: Pride.
Growth, whether physical or spiritual always follows a natural progression. There is a starting point. There is a destination. And then there is the path that gets us there. In the Apostle John’s first letter, he describes the progression that marks a child of GodRead More › about A reasonable doctrine (5): The Corinthians’ stumbling stone: Pride.
A reasonable doctrine (4): The message of the cross
Do you have a favorite Bible verse? Most Christians would say, yes. It could be a verse that always comforts you, or that strengthens you, or that reminds you of God’s faithfulness. It could be a verse that defines your purpose as a believer. When asked, I would usually go to Job 19:25-26 (I know my Redeemer lives…) or Isaiah 61:1-3 (The Spirit of the Lord is upon me…) but the longer I spent time preaching in the Jails, the more haunting 1 Corinthians 2:1-2 became.Read More › about A reasonable doctrine (4): The message of the cross
A reasonable doctrine (3): Mirror, mirror
The root problem of the troubles of the Corinthian Church was pride, and a surprising kind of pride at that: They were proud of being super Christians; and that was what was causing the divisions. We don’t get the full details at the beginning, but we can deduce what was going on: Someone saying, “I am a better Christian than you are because I follow Peter; and he walked with Jesus, you know.” To which someone else could say: “Well, how many churches has Peter planted? Now take Paul… there’s someone to follow; he plants churches left and right.”
And it got much worse than just boasting. For, later on we find that some thought they were such powerful Christians that they were beyond sin. It is small wonder that by the time Paul writes the 2nd Epistle he has to deal squarely with so-called super-apostles.Read More › about A reasonable doctrine (3): Mirror, mirror
A reasonable doctrine (2): Reason and the voice of God.
In the Introduction to his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul sets out to remind the Corinthian Christians that there is huge difference between the kingdom of the world and the Kingdom of God. The first difference that he points out is a difference of the heart. The citizens of the Kingdom of God are known by their humility toward God and their selfless love toward each other. Pride and sectarianism are ways of the world. But there is also another difference just as important; it is a difference of the mind: The kingdom you choose to live in determines the way you reason.Read More › about A reasonable doctrine (2): Reason and the voice of God.