1 Corinthians 1:1–2 (ESV) — 1 Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes, 2 To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:
What is the church? Is it a building? Is it a place you go to become a better person? A community to belong to? Is it obsolete and outdated? Hopelessly dysfunctional? A place to be entertained by dynamic public speakers, rocking music, and a great light show?
I’m convinced that most Christians don’t know what the church is. Is it any wonder then that those outside the church don’t quite know what to make of us either?
1 Corinthians is a love letter to a dysfunctional and broken church. It is a reminder of what the church is. It addresses so much brokenness, but always with a beautiful reminder of the exalted call to be the Church.
After addressing himself to this church that he knew so well, Paul reminds us of three things:
- The importance of the local church.
While it may seem obvious, Paul addresses his letter not simply to any and every Christian, but to a specific body of believers in Corinth. While the Church is more than one body, it is never less than one body.
There are so many Christians today who want to exist outside of a committed membership of a local church body. Perhaps it is because they have seen how dysfunctional churches can be. So have I! But no church you’ve been to was as dysfunctional as the church at Corinth, and yet, Paul doesn’t tell them to abandon gathering together. Far from it! He calls them to unity!
Christian, God wants you committed to a local body of believers. The local church is God’s tool to accomplish His will in your life and in your community. It is the pattern laid out in the New Testament and the will of God for every Christian. Neither of us are the exception. Jesus did not tell Peter that on the rock of his confession of Christ, He would build your small group. He did not say that the gates of Hell would not overcome your accountability group or men’s ministry! He said He would build His church.
Are you in regular attendance in Sunday worship? Before you answer, think through your attendance record over the last 3 months. If not, why not? Is the gathering of the church a priority in your week? When something is a priority, we sacrifice for it.
Are you committed to a local church? Are you serving in some area of ministry on a regular basis? Are you building relationships with other people in your church with the view of submitting your needs and desires for their good? Or do you more often find yourself wanting to walk away because the church isn’t meeting your needs? Ephesians 5:21 tells us to submit “to one another out of reverence to Christ.” In other words, if I’m not willing to set myself and my desires aside to invest in meeting your needs, then my relationship with Christ is not what it should be.
If you are not committed to a local church, then ask God to help you set aside and repent of whatever is keeping you from committing yourself to a local body of believers. The church is a crucial part of God’s plan for your holiness and joy. It was true for this messed up church then, and it is true for our church today.
Tomorrow, we’ll consider Paul’s second reminder to us as the Church…
2. God graciously called us into the church in our salvation.
Then on Thursday, we’ll see the significance of his third reminder…
3. That we are joined together with all Christians.
You are loved!