Every Grace While We Wait

[Stan Helton, currently ministers in the state of Louisiana.  In his time north of the 49th parallel, he was a significant influence upon many in our church through his roles both at Glen Elm and at Western Christian.]

“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 1:3–9 NRSV)

So begins Paul’s first letter to the Christians living in the cosmopolitan city of Corinth and it wasn’t easy to be a Christian in Corinth. Rebuilt by the Romans in 44 BC, the port city was a mixing pot—mostly of all the vices the ancient world had to offer. In Corinth, you could find drinking in excess, carousing, prostitution (both at the temples and at the brothels), idolatry, slavery, exploitation, and more. The list would make most of Paul’s vice lists look somewhat tame. Yet, here, in the pagan city of Corinth, God, though the ministry of Paul and others, had formed (or rather, was in the process of forming) a Christ-shaped people. In the darkness, the light still dawned.

What captures me about this text is that Paul is so confident about God’s calling of the Corinthians. For example, Paul is confident that the grace of God has been given to them. He is also confident that they have been enriched in every way; in their speech; in their knowledge; and in the way that God has blessed them with every spiritual gift. The remainder of this letter is about Paul helping them sort out the meaning of these graces. Paul believes that God has given them knowledge, that God has inspired their speech, and that God has blessed them with every spiritual “gifting.” In short, they have all they need.

So what are they to do with all these gifts? The interesting turn of the text is that they are to wait “for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ.” So, if I’m reading the text correctly, then God has given us everything we need as we wait for him to accomplish his purposes. You see, Paul is also confident that God will strengthen us and that he can keep us blameless until the end when the waiting will be over.

May God bless each of us as we wait for him!

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