Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes,
To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge—even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you—so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord (1 Corinthians 1:1-9).
This is how Paul begins his letter to the Corinthian church. He greets them, calling them sanctified in Jesus, and then thanks God for his brothers and sisters in the city of Corinth. This letter is coated in the love that Paul has for this church; yet, this church is not perfect. And though Paul loves them, he also addresses some serious issues that this church is struggling with, and corrects them. Issues, such as:
Divisions, (“I follow Paul,” “I follow Apollos,” “I follow Cephas,” “I follow Christ”), sexual immorality (a man sleeping with his mother-in-law, and Christians having sexual relations with the temple prostitutes), lawsuits (Christians suing Christians), idolatry (breaking one of the Ten Sayings and worshipping other gods), getting drunk and gluttonizing during the Lord’s Supper (while others left hungry), fighting over spiritual gifts, and chaotic worship. These were the problems that these Christians were having, and some pretty severe morality problems at that. Yet, even though Christians were sleeping around and getting drunk, Paul doesn’t brand them heretics or nullifies their baptisms, but still calls them brothers and sisters. (Yes, there is one that Paul tells the church to separate from their fellowship, but as a last resort to help him give up his sin (1 Corinthians 5:1-5). Not because he disagreed with the elders or for playing an instrument, but to help him realize his actions, to save his soul, and so hopefully he will want to be brought back into the fold. For he may be the one who Paul refers to in 2 Corinthians to forgive and to bring him back (2 Corinthians 2:5-11). Paul still calls the members of this church brothers and sisters; yet, he also holds them accountable and calls them out on their sins.
Additionally, not only was this church struggling with their morality, but it appears that Paul was also trying to unite two radically different cultures, Jew and Gentile, into one (1 Corinthians 1:3). For these two cultures had less in common than Methodists and Baptists or between Church of Christs and Catholics, yet Paul doesn’t tell the Jews to split and make their own church and the Gentiles to make another, yet tells them that the church is one body. A body that needs eyes and ears and a nose.
. . . So if Paul expected this Corinthian church to stick together, to love each other even though some were Jews and some were Gentiles, and even though some of them were getting drunk and sleeping around, how much more should the church today be expected to be more united?
Church, our Corinthian brethren were struggling with some pretty severe problems, yet Paul still expected them to be united and to get along. Yet we have churches today who won’t worship together because of a guitar. Who split because the color of the carpet was changed. Who excommunicate people for not believing that the days of Genesis are six literal days. No, the church will never be perfect until our Lord and Savior returns, but what the church is fighting over today is stupid! They are small, very small problems compared to the conflicts of the Corinthian church, yet, we’re letting them divide us more and more.
Church, I plead you, stop it. Stop fighting over the little things that don’t matter. Yes, should we discuss these topics, of course. I’m not saying that we should just agree with everything, for we won’t, for if we were only a body, where would the eyes and ears be? We need to be diverse, but we should also be unified. We can be unified in our belief that Jesus is the Son of God–for this is the crux of our faith. And the other things, let’s discuss them in love, and learn that we don’t have to agree on everything.
This letter was written to the Corinthian church, but perhaps, there are many truths in it that are needed for our time? For Paul’s words were meant to correct the issues of morality and divisions within this church, and if read properly, maybe it can used to purify and to unite the church of today?