1 Corinthians 1

This devotional is written by Ruth Slatter. 

1 Corinthians 1

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Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes,

2 To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be his holy people, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ - their Lord and ours:

3 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

4 I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. 5 For in him you have been enriched in every way - with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge - 6 God thus confirming our testimony about Christ among you. 7 Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. 8 He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

A church divided over leaders
10 I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. 11 My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe's household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. 12 What I mean is this: one of you says, 'I follow Paul'; another, 'I follow Apollos'; another, 'I follow Cephas'; still another, 'I follow Christ.'

13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptised in the name of Paul? 14 I thank God that I did not baptise any of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so no one can say that you were baptised in my name. 16 (Yes, I also baptised the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don't remember if I baptised anyone else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptise, but to preach the gospel - not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

Christ crucified is God's power and wisdom
18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written:

'I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.'

20 Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling-block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things - and the things that are not - to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God - that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: 'Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.'


Listen to the reflection on Sound Cloud
Paul was writing to a divided church in Corinth. Not only had its members totally missed the point of the Christ centred nature of Christianity and started positioning themselves in association with particular apostles and teachers, but they had also begun to boast about their own spiritual capacities, rather than acknowledging that their talents were blessings from God.

Many of us, and the people we interact with, are in London to do something in particular. We are on a mission to make it in our field and spend much of our time trying to convince others (and ourselves) that we are really good at what we do. It is therefore humbling to be reminded that we are the 'weak' things of the world, who are simply vessels for the skills and talents God has blessed us with.

More than this, it is also a huge relief to shift our attention from striving for our own success to God's greatness and generosity. None of us go through our spiritual, personal or professional lives without slipups, meltdowns and flat-on-our-face failures. But God doesn't care because he has purposefully chosen weak and broken human beings to carry out His purposes. Therefore, it is not our failures that matter, but the way we respond to them and get back on with the calling God has given us and using the gifts He has blessed us with. Phew, what a relief!

Spend some time today reflecting on your attitude to your spiritual, personal and professional talents. Acknowledge them as blessings from God and bask in the freedom this brings. Ask God for the boldness and courage to use your gifts with the freedom and integrity that comes from accepting our weakness and God's strength.

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