JohnSWilson3 Blog

“But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead…”
September 5, 2009, 2:53 pm
Filed under: J First Letter to the Corinthians

Finishing the first letter to the church in Corinth I am fascinated by the fact that in these last couple chapters Paul brings everything home! “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance”!

The life of the church at Corinth had been focused on everything but Jesus Christ, they had begun to lead idolatrous lives focusing on themselves at the expense of their other brothers and sisters in Christ and were not expressing Jesus life not only to each other but to the world around them. Sounds like a parallel to what happened with the nation of Israel where time and again Israel lost its focus on being a “light to the Gentiles” and fell into idolatry.

In these last two chapters of his letter Paul focuses on the whole purpose of the Christian life: Jesus! “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and then he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve…” As a follower of Jesus, Jesus desires to live His life, ministry, death and resurrection life in and through me to be expressed in love for one another. Jesus command: “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” But their focus on distinctions in the body of Christ, dividing the body into the haves and have nots, taking advantage of one another, arrogance, slander, idolatry, and lack of humility robbed God of His glory and power in their lives and were living defeated lives. They were hurting Christ! May it never be so with me Lord!

They had lost their testimony to themselves and the world because of their lack of unity, lack of consensus and accountability to living Jesus life according to His words. Jesus prayer had been forgotten: “I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” They had forgotten about the resurrected life of Jesus! They had forgotten that resurrection comes after the crucifixion! Jesus said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” Paul said earlier that his only desire while he was with them was to “know Christ and him crucified.” Why? Because resurrection comes after crucifixion! Jesus will more fully express Himself in our lives, His love and grace, the fruit of the Spirit, when we deny ourselves and take our cross daily and follow Him.

But it is not an individual life that we live, it is with His Body! We learn to live a life of love through His Body! We cannot know the love of Christ fully unless we are growing more and more together in His Body! We cannot know the resurrection life of Jesus unless we “stand firm” in Jesus, making Him Lord and Head of not just our lives but in the life of the Body when we assemble together in the name of the Lord Jesus, and then His power, His resurrection power will be available to us for His glory! “In Christ all will be made alive.”

Towards the end of his letter Paul gives us a wonderful revelation of the glory of Christ, but also the glory that Christ gives us when we are together with Him! “For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed”! Jesus wants to transform me, you, us, the Body of Christ so that we look like Him!

“There is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.” How is Jesus living and loving others through me, you, through His Body? Is it my life or is it Jesus life? Is there love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control? Are we focused on Jesus? His life, ministry, death, and resurrection? Are we making Him Head over us? Can we like Paul say: “For I am resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified”? Am I boasting about what Christ is doing or about what I am doing? Am I following “the example of Christ” from His words He gave us? Am I sharing my life with others, my other brothers and sisters in Christ and for that matter anyone, for their common good, or my own? Do I have concern for others or for myself? “Love is patient, love is kind. it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails…Follow the way of love…for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort.” Paul says to be careful whom you hang around with. Are we hanging around people for their good, to express Jesus to them, or for us? If so they will influence us for evil. “Bad company corrupts good character.” The resurrection life will be demonstrated in our lives, Jesus’ all powerful resurrection life, when we die to ourselves and live by faith, by letting Jesus live His loving practices through us to one another no matter the cost involved. “Do everything in love” Paul says.

Paul ends his letter again reminding them of those who have lived Jesus life among them, not just Paul, but those who they know and trust: “the household of Stephanas…(who) have devoted themselves to the service of the saints.” Paul reaffirms how Jesus is still in their lives because of members from the church having come to visit him and “have supplied what was lacking from you. For they refreshed my spirit and yours also.” Paul needs the followers of Jesus in Corinth, living by His life, in order to know Christ more fully! Even Paul! But Paul desires that they come to unity and fully allow Jesus to express Himself through the Body. As such he notes the lives of Aquila and Priscilla who worked among the Corinthians and the believers their saw this couples way of living by the life of Jesus. This godly couple greets these Corinthians “warmly in the Lord, and so does the church that meets at their house” and in fact “all the brothers here send you greetings.” What an awesome means of encouragement. After realizing how much they had fallen in living Jesus life through themselves they are given a reimagining of what Jesus can do in and through them by remembering the work of God that was done in them from the beginning by the wonderful examples of men and women who had denied themselves, carried their crosses and had followed Jesus!

Lord how we need examples of Your people truly living your life, expressing your love and grace so that we to might reimagine the crucified and resurrected life you desire in me, in us! First Corinthians…what an awesome letter of understanding what the life of the body of Christ is all about! How every church needs to read it with prayer and conviction and reimagine the life of Jesus that is possible in every follower of Jesus living in a shared life in His body, including me!


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