Paul knew that Jesus didn’t make mistakes with the people that he came to save. The Corinthians made him question it a little bit, though.
Here they were: affluent, gifted, talented, smart…and yet they were also pretentious, prideful, immoral, ignorant… How could people who had so much be so silly?
He had been getting reports that, just like everything else in their life, they assumed that the end result of their salvation was really about them. The same principle they applied to “their” money, to “their” pastor, to “their” job, to “their” abilities–namely, that it was all for their own benefit–they now applied to their spirituality. Jesus had saved them, and now they were locked in a game of one-upsmanship to see who had received greater gifts. Their gatherings were becoming less and less about the Jesus who saved them, and more and more about the people he had saved. They would walk into the house where they worshipped and you could see it in many of their faces: these people should be really glad that I’m part of this community. They are lucky to have me.
Why did they always seem to come so close to getting it, just to get it twisted in the end?
The people in the church should be glad to have each other, but luck had nothing to do with it. Neither did the credentials of the person themselves. Rather, the reason that they should be glad that each of them were part of the gathered body is because the Holy Spirit had given each of them special gifts that would allow them to make a contribution for the greater good.
Didn’t they see it? They had each been called to serve and care for one another! Everything that they had been given was for the common good. That was the example of Jesus, after all. He had laid everything down so that they could be saved and really learn to love one another, selflessly, truly. Now, they were to continue that call and live as the embodiment of sacrificial love to one another. That’s why they were given these “gifts” that they were so proud about. It wasn’t so that they would be proud; it’s so that they could humbly love and serve one another.
Oh well, Paul thought. They were never going to get it right, at least not on this side of eternity. They were saved by grace, and he knew it would require more and more grace every day just for them to get through. In the meantime, he’d write them a letter reminding them of how Christ was calling them to live. In time they might learn to see service as a gift to one another. Until then, Jesus still reigned.
Every believer in the church has been given specific and special gifts that they are called to use for the common good. But what does that mean? Join us tomorrow in person at 10:30 am, or live online at live.restoreworship.org as we consider what it means to have been given the Gift of Service.