Today is day 85 in our journey through the Bible in 90 days.
If you’ve ever seen the first few shows of American Idol, you’ve witnessed the pain and mockery that happens when people aren’t honest with each other. People who are obviously terrible at singing make it through multiple rounds of competition to finally stand before the judges. That, of course, is when Simon Cowell drops the bomb on them like…
“If your lifeguard duties were as good as your singing, a lot of people would be drowning.”
“Did you really believe you could become the American Idol? Well, then, you’re deaf.”
“My advice would be if you want to pursue a career in the music business, don’t.”
*real Simon Cowell quotes*
Granted, he’s not the nicest guy, and he certainly could tell the truth in a much nicer way, but at least someone finally told them what they should have been told long ago: the truth.
Sometimes the truth hurts. Paul’s first letter to the church in Corinth is full of the truth (like the rest of Scripture), and it was also pretty painful to to its original readers. Paul even mentions that in his second letter to them…
“For even if I made you grieve with my letter, I do not regret it—though I did regret it, for I see that that letter grieved you, though only for a while.” – 2 Corinthians 7:8
1 Corinthians is pretty in-your-face. Paul wrote it in response to some questions that the church in Corinth had (Ch. 7 – sex, marriage, singleness, Ch. 8 – food sacrificed to idols), but also as a rebuke for some sinful behavior that they were allowing to continue (quarreling – Ch. 2, sexual sin – Ch. 5). However, Paul wasn’t pulling a Simon – he wasn’t out to simply crush hopes and dreams. 2 Corinthians also reveals to us his intent behind his first letter: the health of the church.
Both letters were written during his 3rd missionary journey. He had already gone through Corinth on his second missionary journey (see Acts 18), which is when the church began. It was small, and the Christians matured very slowly. As a traveling missionary/pastor/church planter, Paul learned of their immaturity and sent a letter of rebuke. It did answer questions, but it also called the Corinthians out on their immoral and sinful behavior.
We are called to be truthful with each other. It would do us and the church as a whole a lot of good if we would speak the truth in love with each other.
One of the church’s main problems is still a large problem within the church today: division. Some people were saying they followed Paul, others Apollos, others, Cephas, and still others, Christ. I love Paul’s blatant honesty…
“Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” – 1 Corinthians 1:13
As they choose sides, he is quick to swoop in and remind them Who actually died for them and in Whose name they were baptized. We have to be careful today too, of not forming personality cults or turning pastors into celebrities. If they’re doing their job, everything they say should be pointing to Jesus anyway. Paul didn’t want the glory – He made sure that all went to Jesus, to whom it belonged anyway.
1 Corinthians is not only a source of the hard truth, but it’s also a great resource for the gifts of the Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12-14 are all about the differing gifts that have been given to the church and to individual believers. Paul talks about many of them, and especially in Chapter 14, describes how gifts like tongues and prophecy should be exercised within the local church. There are many churches today that would benefit from an understanding of this chapter. After all…
“But all things should be done decently and in order.” – 1 Corinthians 14:40
Although some of 1 Corinthians is pretty abrasive at times, there are some glorious truths and reminders all throughout. Its sequel, 2 Corinthians, comes next, as Paul clears up some of the issues and clarifies his role as an apostle.