What does it mean to be part of The Church, God’s people? In a world of individualism and self-centeredness what does it mean to be a local manifestation of God’s people here in St Paul?
In 1 Corinthians we find the apostle Paul reminding his church-plant in Corinth just what, or who rather, it is that unites them as one. One of the reasons for Paul’s letter to the Corinthians was to encourage them to be one and leave their divisions behind them. The Corinthians, in true Greek fashion were attaching themselves to their favorite teacher (as was a standard practice of the day) by saying “I follow Paul or I follow Apollos”. Paul reminds them that our standing as part of Christ’s Church is by grace alone. We did not earn our place in The Church by our own workings or efforts, but “[We] are not [our] own; [we] were bought at a price” (6:19b-20). In fact, to remind them of this Paul opens his letter to them by mentioning Christ 10 times in the first 10 verses!
God’s will for the Corinthians was that there “may be no divisions among [them] and that [they] might be perfectly united in mind and thought” (1:10). The word in Greek for “united” is katartizo which means to restore or bring back together what was undone. We find this word used in Matthew 4:21 when Jesus finds the Brothers of Zebedee “mending” their fishing nets which had been torn.
Just as the disciples mended their nets back together, God through Christ is mending and restoring God’s people as one. The full reality of this we will not experience until we are received into heaven, the new Eden. But God has called us to live in community with other believer now and to be centered around our Savior, Christ Jesus.
Dear Lord, forgive us for the times we take our eyes off you and begin to make church about something other than you. Lord, you’ve mended us together through the forgiveness of sins you won for us on the cross. Continue to build the bonds of peace among us here at Bethel and in your Church eternal. Amen.