and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
– The Epistle of First Corinthians 1:3 (ESV)
At first glance this seems like a simple greeting from Paul to one of his many churches he ministered to. But when you consider what type of church he was dealing with his words of blessing are quite striking. Corinth, simply put, was a very, very messed up church. This congregation with its lascivious behavior would’ve been the talk of the denomination, probably had a few write-ups in the national Christian magazines and definitely been the topic of discussion for the local radio talk shows. For example, members at Corinth Community Church were getting sloshed (that’s the Greek term) at the Lord’s Supper. Now that’s some type of worship service, eh? Not only does that tell us they weren’t Baptists, it also tells us they had some pretty deep issues going on.
And yet when Paul gets word about the train wreck that was Corinth (a church that he planted by the way), the first thing he gives to them is a blessing. A blessing? How about a butt-kicking or something along the lines of “You better get outta there because I just asked God to ‘Sodom & Gomorrah’ you screw-ups!” Okay, okay…I’d be a bad apostle but c’mon, these guys are totally blowing it!
But Paul’s words help me see the truth that no matter how messed up the church is it’s still the church. It’s still the primary way Jesus has chosen to work in the world, and our hearts should be for its success…even if we’ve been disappointed or even burned by it!
This little verse of blessing instructs me on how I handle messed up churches? I should pray God would bless them! And that blessing could be God removing bad leaders, it could be him closing the doors of a church that’s forsaken the Gospel, but it also might be reviving them for the mission of Jesus in the world, of them repenting and realigning for the Kingdom. Unfortunately, I’m too trigger-happy in writing them off when I should be humbled by the fact that if it weren’t for God’s grace my church might be a Corinthian congregation as well.
So next time, instead of pointing a finger or two, I should work on folding them and whisper a blessing that God would bring his grace to them.