Paul thanked God for the church at Corinth. Think about that next time you are tempted to complain about your church.
The church at Corinth, from what we can gather by examining the Apostle Paul’s letters to them, was simply a mess. They suffered from divisions (1 Corinthians 1:10-3:23), gross sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 5:1-13; 6:12-20), believers taking each other to court (1 Corinthians 6:1-11), idolatry (1 Corinthians 10:1-22), disorderly worship,including the abuse of the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:1-34; 14:1-40), confusion regarding spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:1-31; 14:1-40), and even confusion regarding the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-58).
Doesn’t exactly sound like a church that any of us would want to go near with a 10-foot pole, does it? But look at Paul’s words to them in the opening greeting of his first epistle:
“I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge—even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you—so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:4-9 ESV)
Amazing words of grace, considering the problems that this church had (which are detailed throughout much of the rest of the letter). Paul was truly thankful to God for the church at Corinth!
Do we thank God for the local church – our local church? Do we thank God for each other in our local church like that? Do we thank God always for His grace in the lives of our fellow believers, even those with whom we may not see eye to eye on all things? Do we even thank God for our fellow believers whose lives are marked by immaturity and struggles with sin?
Do we see past the imperfections, sins, and personality conflicts, so that we can call to mind the grace, gifts, and future perfection in Christ of our fellow believers? Paul certainly did, and we would do well to follow his example.
Think about this passage next time you are tempted to dwell too much on the weaknesses, problems, or personality conflicts at your church. Every believer in your church (warts and all!) is a cause for gratitude for the grace of God in Jesus Christ.
If we thought more of God’s amazing grace toward each other, we would no doubt show more grace toward each other.