The church at Corinth was a hard church, to say the least. They were divided. They were carnal. They tolerated sin. They sued each other. They argued over Christian liberty, spiritual gifts, and the resurrection. My guess is this was a church most of us would NOT want to pastor.
Some of us, on the other hand, might feel like we’re leading a church that has its own similar set of issues. If that’s where you are, I encourage you to read two portions of 1 Corinthians: the beginning and the end:
- “I always thank my God for you because of the grace of God given to you in Christ Jesus, that you were enriched in him in every way, in all speech and all knowledge. In this way, the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you, so that you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you will be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful; you were called by him into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (1 Cor 1:4-9)
- “My love be with all of you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Cor 16:24)
Here’s why these texts are so important. Paul starts this letter by saying first to the Corinthians, “I’m grateful to God for you” and then closes the letter by saying “I love you a lot.” These bookends surround the rest of the letter — most that says, “You all are an absolute mess.” They were a mess, but that mess didn’t govern Paul’s response to them. Somehow, in the grace of God, he kept his focus on gratitude and love.
When you do that, you can put up with a lot of church messes — and show the transforming grace of God in the way you lead and love your congregation. We must deal with the issues, but gratitude and love trump grief and frustration.
Originally published at Church Answers
Chuck Lawless currently serves as Professor of Evangelism and Missions and Dean of Graduate Studies at Southeastern Seminary. A conference speaker and author or co-author of more than ten books, including Spiritual Warfare: Biblical Truth for Victory, Discipled Warriors, Putting on the Armor, Mentor, and Spiritual Warfare in the Storyline of Scripture, Dr. Lawless has a strong interest in discipleship and mentoring. You can connect with Dr. Lawless on both Twitter and Facebook.