As we spent our final Sunday in 1 Corinthians, we reviewed some of the themes and highlights of the book. While the book is largely a rebuke of the church, the emphasis isn’t solely fixated on the Corinthians failures, but ultimately pointing us toward the gospel and how God addresses our failures. Given this, we see: The messiness of church should drive us to the sufficiency of Christ.
While we could legitimately speak to six or eight themes, we limited our time to three of them this Sunday.
- Love is the Authenticator of Our Salvation:
Biblical love as described and defined in chapter 13 is meant to be the proof, marker or identifier that we belong to Jesus. There are some significant implications that come with this. Namely, that choosing to love others, isn’t optional for Christians. It’s not something for the mature, for those who are “gifted” for it or like it, it’s for all believers! It’s important that we see how this plays out in our lives. To love in a biblical sense isn’t that I love people that I like (though that’s true as well), but I can be patient, kind, not arrogant, rude, etc. to those that annoy me; to those that get on my nerves; to those that are difficult to be around. This is the gospel at work within us, and only possible if Christ has truly captured us!
- God Gives Spiritual Gifts to Build up the Church:
The second theme that drives through the book is the theme of spiritual gifts. There’s A LOT that could be said about this, but let me briefly address three items that arise in 1 Corinthians.
- We find our identity in Christ, not our Giftedness: The Corinthians found their identity in their gifts. What Paul wanted them to see in 1 Corinthians 12 is that their giftedness is to be found in Christ. Do not allow your gifts to become the source of your identity. Above all else, you are a son or a daughter of the King!
- Our Giftedness does not imply Spiritual Maturity: Paul tells us in 1:7 that the Corinthian church is loaded with gifts. In 3:1 he tells them that they are immature. While it can be tempting to look at competency before we look at character, God is concerned with our character.
- We Use Our Gifts to Build the Church: We are to use the variety of gifts to accomplish the singular purpose of bringing honor to God. As we use our gifts, we want to use them to build up one another.
- We are Called into Community Through Christ’s Work:
Finally, we see a pervasive theme that emerges around community. Paul begins the letter by telling the church that they are called to community. It’s not optional, but something that God puts on all believers. We see in multiples places that gospel community is unique and distinct because the gospel shapes and forms the community. Unlike so many communities we see today, gospel community isn’t built around commonalities or shared interests, it’s built around the atoning work of Jesus. The gospel forms and shapes the community, which allows the community to be distinct. In our distinction, we are a holy community, a generous community, a community that serves and a community that seeks to resolve conflict.