By Diego Batista
“Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues. All are not apostles, are they? All are not prophets, are they? All are not teachers, are they? All are not workers of miracles, are they? All do not have gifts of healings, do they? All do not speak with tongues, do they? All do not interpret, do they? But earnestly desire the greater gifts.
"And I show you a still more excellent way." 1 Corinthians 12:27-31
When Paul sat down in Ephesus to write to his troubled friends in Corinth, he faced a world much like our own. The divisions were deep. Relationships were frazzled. Fear was in the air. Morality was uncertain. A multitude of pagan faiths converged in that time. Slavery and poverty were everywhere. Great gaps separated the rich and the poor.
In the hard soil of secular Corinth, Paul sowed the seeds of the gospel and planted a church. After 18 months, under great pressure from the Jews, Paul left Corinth.
It was only after his departure that trouble erupted in that congregation. The congregation’s members mirrored the troubled times in the world around them. They disagreed on leadership. There were sexual problems. Members sued one another in the civil courts. They haggled about idols, the role of women, doctrine. They were divided along class lines and almost everything else.
Could they survive? It is an old question. Can we survive shootings in public schools, ineffective leaders in public life and culture wars over doctrine, social issues and church direction?
What happened at Corinth was nothing short of a miracle. In the shabbiest of churches with the shabbiest of problems, in the shabbiest of times, Paul put pen to paper and begun to write. “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angles… but have not loved…” These words would become the glue that would bind the members into a fellowship so strong that nothing could break its power.
Paul began the roll call in the twelfth chapter with an enormous challenge: “Set your hearts on the best spiritual gifts.” His antidote for a troubled time and a troubled church was the gift called love. He gave the congregation a vision of love that would keep them together and mend their differences, a dream that would send them out into the world changed, and better prepared for whatever would come.
Friends, I pray our work and our lives reflect love. Yes, the needs and problems of our world are overwhelming, but Jesus tells us to take heart, because He overcame the world. Let the love of Christ saturate your life. Set your eyes on him, “the author and perfecter of our faith.”
Diego Batista is the mission group coordinator for Buckner National Missions. He was born in Brazil and moved to the Austin, Texas, area in 2000 with his parents as missionaries. Diego and his wife have a 9-month-old son, Caleb.
Prayer of the Week:
-God, forgives us for failing to love others according to your word in 1 Corinthians 13. Help us to be patient and kind. Let us live in an attitude of humility, not pride. Teach us to forgive others without holding grudges. Give us grace to protect, trust, hope and persevere.
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