GRACE IN THE DARKNESS
Lord, as I open your Word, may your Spirit, rather than the spirit of this age, instruct me.
Read 1 Corinthians 1:1-9
1 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.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Open our hearts and minds, O God, not merely to gain information, but to learn how to live in this difficult and troubled world, in Jesus’ name.
I write in isolation. The coronavirus terrifies our world. We feel our mortality. Will we live in a changed world when these notes are read? God is not responsible for Covid-19. It is a product of a fallen creation, a dysfunctional environment.1 Christians are not immune from this, but we are called to be the people of God in whatever circumstances we find ourselves.2 These timeless opening verses of Paul’s letter are as relevant today as they were to the Christians in Corinth. We are all called. Paul declares his own calling as an apostle, aware that he must assert his authority, but he quickly softens any sternness. We are all called, the people of the Corinthian church then and all of us today who ‘call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (v 2). We are called to be holy ‘in Christ Jesus’ (v 2), to be set apart as God’s special people by faith in his Son.
We are called. We are to live in constant awareness of that reality. We belong to Christ and continue to belong only through the grace of God (v 4). That grace makes possible the beginning of faith and sustains us who belong throughout the whole of our lives: ‘the indispensable ground of the life of faith from its beginning to its end.’3
As we shall see, the Christians in Corinth were not allowing that grace to permeate all aspects of their lives. They did not lack the spiritual gifts which were vital to the life of their Christian community (v 7). No group of Christians does. The gifts of the Spirit have always been given, but we must not let them lie dormant. We already have the gifts to be the church, even in these troubled and challenging times – and we must use them.
O Lord, we walk through the valley of the shadow of death. Thank you for the grace you give us to tread that path, no matter where it leads.
Loving Lord, I’m thankful that life in you is more amazing than I could ever imagine. I praise you that I have been born again to a living hope.
1 Rom 8:18–21 2 Hab 3:17,18; Phil 4:10,11 3 J Paul Sampley, ‘1 Corinthians’, The New Interpreter’s Bible, Vol X, Abingdon Press, 2002, p798
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