I always thank my God for you and for the gracious gifts he has given you, now that you belong to Christ Jesus. Through him, God has enriched your church in every way—with all of your eloquent words and all of your knowledge. – 1 Corinthians 1:4-5
Sometimes I get my coffee-and-a-verse-of-scripture” right off the computer. That’s where I find my Bible Gateway Verse of the Day, it’s where Rebekah and I go for our daily Upper Room meditation, and it’s where I do a lot of my parallel translation reading.
And – as always – today’s reading interfaces beautifully with the deeper currents running through my life. This passage is a remarkable commentary on The Church and what actually happens, or is possible, in the context of a community rooted in the teachings of Jesus.
I like that definition of church: “A community rooted in the teachings of Jesus.” If I were to elaborate I’d say that church is a community rooted in the teachings of Jesus and in the practice of discipleship.
The writer of the Corinthians passage points out that God has given gracious gifts to these people who now “belong to” Jesus Christ. We are being “made rich through him in everything,” another translation phrases this, “in all your communication and every kind of knowledge.”
The church, then (the community rooted in the teachings of Jesus) is enriched by the raw material of the lives of those who are members. Every congregation is necessarily unique simply because it becomes defined by the gifts and the commitment of the real-life people who make up the body.
Both wonderful and complicated!
This can be both wonderful and extremely complicated! No two people have the same set of gifts, or the same level of commitment, or the same life experiences, or the same family background, or the same reactions to similar events, or the same passions, or the same personality, or the same relationship with God. Additionally, we are all on different mile markers in our journey as people of faith.
Think of the possible variations, the number of sets and combinations in which things can be ordered or arranged! Even in a church of twenty people the permutations can be staggering. In our congregation there are around 750 members, with more than 1,000 people in the orbit of regular attendance and participation.
Every one of these people “enrich [Christ’s] church in every way,” with their gifts (and foibles), their eloquent words (and the challenges they present), their knowledge (and their need to learn)….
This is the church! The Church. Wake Forest Presbyterian Church. This “community rooted in the teachings of Jesus,” yet at the same time rooted in all that makes any given congregation a unique conglomeration of individuals on a journey of healing and wholeness.
We are necessarily a hot mess! – Loved and valued and uniquely gifted by God.
“I always thank my God for you and for the gracious gifts he has given you, now that you belong to Christ Jesus. Through him, God has enriched your church in every way—with all of your eloquent words and all of your knowledge.” – 1 Corinthians 1:4-5
In love, and because we are all uniquely loved – DEREK