A reflection on 1 Corinthians 1:1-9 for Advent Sunday, 29 November, 2020.
Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes,
To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind — just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you — so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
1 Corinthians 1:1-9 (NRSVA)
The church in Corinth was far from perfect. There will be a sting in some of the rebukes to come.
Yet as Paul opens his letter he is willing to celebrate the ‘grace of God’ that has established this community of worshippers. As a result of taking the path of Jesus they have been abundantly enriched. They are wiser and they are, Paul insists, a testimony to those around them. The Apostle boldly insists from the outset that they lack nothing. They are a significantly gifted community – gifted with the very Spirit of God.
To be clear, all this blessing is needed as they live out the Kingdom of God in a society that does not (yet) understand. They are a community in waiting. They are called to anticipate more. They know persecution. They know division. Things are not perfect nor as they will finally be.
Yet, they are called to wait in hope.
Paul insists there will be a final revealing. The Christ that so many around them deny will be revealed. This same one is a strengthening force among them – a force moving this imperfect community in the direction of ‘blamelessness’.
There is a beauty to the insistence that ‘God is faithful’ in all this. God has called this too-slow growing community into fellowship with the Godhead. Salvation is breathtaking, generous, and patient.
Of course, Paul will make some adjustments to their life together. He will add his judgment on their behaviour. He has much to correct. The Apostle has needed guidance to give.
It all adds up to this call to wait being far from passive. It is active. It is attentive. They moving in the same direction as God.
Theirs is a waiting at work.
And it is brimming with hope. Paul opens like this because he believes what God starts God finishes. Before any rebuke or correction, Paul asks for a celebration of the hope that God will bring to fulfilment.
Wait well. For God is faithful.
What is the most difficult aspect of waiting for you?
What does it meant to ‘actively wait’? Is your understanding of waiting more passive than active?
What does ‘waiting at work’ look like for you? What does it look like for your community?