Why you’ve never heard of
the Second Corinthian Church
[Studies in 1 Corinthians]
Paul was a traveling apostle, not the local pastor of Corinth. Nevertheless, he had to deal with the members of this flock in a pastoral way, teaching, encouraging and rebuking them.
I’ve spend some years studying 1 Corinthians, and I must admit honestly, that if I had been Paul, I would have been heavily tempted to abandon the Corinthian church, and that long before he wrote 1 Corinthians in AD 56. The fact that Paul did not do so is a testimony to what God was doing at Corinth. It is estimated that there were perhaps 60-100 Christians in Corinth, distributed among 3-4 congregations, which met in private homes. It took two years to plant that church; it had then received five years of further apostolic care from Paul, then Apollos, probably Cephas/Peter, not to mention Timothy, Titus and other team members. It carried on regular written correspondence with Paul. It was a church for which Paul anxiously prayed every day (2 Cor 11:28).
Yet compared with the other churches, Corinth gave back poor returns for Paul’s investment. He does not commend them as he does Philippi or Thessalonica for their evangelistic work, and 2 Cor 10:16 may imply that Corinth had not gotten far into evangelizing their own region, Achaia; yet in the meantime, both Achaia and Macedonia had heard about the gospel work in Thessalonica (1 Thess 1:7-8). The Corinthians consumed more resources and energy than they produced; they ate up the apostle’s time and energy when he should have been focusing on the “open doors” in other places (1 Cor 16:8-9).
Some deprecated Paul’s work, even though they owed him their souls. They laughed behind his back that he was crude and simplistic, a loser. Some devalued his gospel by ranking it second to popular philosophy. They rejected whole apostolic doctrines, such as the resurrection of the dead. They were arrogant and boastful, and cruel to their own poor. They justified themselves for rejecting marriage on one hand or for visiting prostitutes on the other. They took each other to court and hurled insults at each other.
If Paul were like us, wouldn’t he have left the church, walked across the city and planted a new work of Christ from scratch? Wouldn’t common sense tell him that if he stopped wasting his time with these few dozen people, he could start another work and surpass that number in a very short time? Why not pour his time into a Second Corinthian Church? He could not do so because Christ would not allow it. For these bothersome individuals were not simply marks in a ledger that should be written off as a bad investment. Rather they were God’s chosen people. And despite the inexcusable things they did and said, Paul perceived that the Spirit was working in them and would continue to do so (1 Cor 1:4-9). As one of the early church fathers wrote around AD 117, a pastor should not spend all his time with the pleasant disciples of the congregation: “If you love only good disciples, it is no credit to you.” (Ignatius Epistle to Polycarp 2.1).
What modern pastor can endure months of this treatment, let alone years? We are in a rush to reap results that we can measure and boast of before other shepherds. We forget that God is not in a hurry. What foolishness it would be to storm off from God’s flock when he may be preparing to do a fresh work among them in a few short years.
When a pastor becomes furious at his sheep for their slowness or stubbornness; when he berates them for their stupidity; when he threatens to leave them; when he beats them in anger rather than chastise them in love; then this pastor has left behind the ministry of Christ and wandered into a ministry of the flesh. Anger cannot accomplish a work for God; impatience, boasting, rudeness and sarcasm are never tools of God’s Spirit.
Download my full commentary on 1 Corinthians
Visit Dr Shogren’s blog to comment on his article
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://christmycovenant.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/cmc-gary-shogren-sm.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Copyright Gary Shogren.
Gary has a PhD in New Testament Exegesis. He serves as Professor at Seminario ESEPA, San Jose, Costa Rica[/author_info] [/author]
A short testimony about what the
gospel looks like in the daily work I do.
Last month, I participated in The Gospel at Work conference. In addition to giving a seminar about women, work and productivity, I was also invited to give this short testimony about what the gospel looks like in the daily work I do. So I’m sharing the testimony here. The messages from this event are available online.
Four years ago, I decided that the depth of the Great Recession was an ideal time to start a new business—in a creative field, no less! So in early 2009, I launched Citygate Films, raising private equity to produce a slate of documentary films. Digital distribution was poised to change the way independent films reach their audiences and I was positioning Citygate to take advantage of that trend.
As expected, my first year in business was a steep learning curve—trying to master securities law, effective business plans, accounting software, taxes and tax forms . . . and even the occasional film shoot! I quickly learned that the “business of business” took more time and brain cells than the creative film work I anticipated filling my time. Daily I asked God both for my personal provision and for the wisdom to make the right decisions required in this new venture—and daily I saw Him be faithful to His promises to give both.
But those experiences are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to seeing the gospel at work. In the years since, I’ve learned three valuable lessons:
Lesson Number One: Relationship Trumps Product
There is a sticky note on my office wall to remind me to pray for one of the musicians featured in our jazz documentary because she’s seriously ill with cancer. Do you know why I have this note posted? Because I need to be reminded she is more than a face in my film.
It’s so easy to default to the product—the film—being the highest priority. I want to make excellent films, but this woman is much more than a subject in my film. She has become a dear friend. Being granted access to someone else’s life and story is one of the great privileges of being a documentary filmmaker. But any story I create only captures a small slice of the larger narrative God has already created, ordained, and sustained.
As John Piper says, “In every situation and circumstance of your life, God is always doing a thousand different things that you cannot see and you do not know.”
Therefore, I need to live in prayerful awareness of that truth. Whether I am working on a feature film that Citygate has produced or a short film for a corporate, nonprofit, or ministry client, I need to live the truth that relationship trumps product. And intercessory prayer is one of the ways I’m learning to practice it.
Lesson Number 2: Give Credit
If you’ve ever made it through a movie’s entire closing credit scroll, you know that filmmaking is a highly collaborative endeavor. As much credit as is given the director for the artistic and commercial success of a film, that individual stands on the talents and efforts of countless others. This is true in every field. We need to acknowledge and praise the contributions of others. But that’s a self-evident truth, even to those who don’t claim faith.
A more profound lesson I’ve learned as a Christ-follower is to look for what’s never listed in the credit scroll: the grace of God in making any human collaboration actually work. That’s the single most important aspect of success, for there are a gazillion ways for our best-laid plans to go wrong.
Lesson Number 3: Invite the Critics
Every filmmaker craves “two thumbs up” and rave reviews. You’ve been up to stupid o’clock every night for months, sometimes years, working on this film and you want major applause as a reward. But that doesn’t happen without much critique along the way to improve the final product.
Here’s what I’ve learned the hard way: critique only becomes criticism if you fear other people by craving their approval or fearing their rejection. But living in light of gospel truth means you know that your most devastating evaluation has already been made: you have fallen short of God’s glory in every way possible. But you still get “two thumbs up” because of Christ’s righteousness. That frees you from the sting of falling short in the judgment of a fellow creature.
Practically speaking, your first draft is never your best, anyway. You have to be willing to have lots of “rough-cut screenings” as we say in the film industry to solicit feedback and improve the final product. Not only will that practice improve your craft, it will also improve your soul.
Some blog posts are worth repeating. This is one of them. ~ CMC
Read the original post and/or comment at Carolyn McCulley’s blog.
Carolyn is the author of two books, Radical Womanhood: Feminine Faith in a Feminist World (Moody Publishers, 2008) and Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye? Trusting God with a Hope Deferred (Crossway, 2004). Carolyn is also a contributor to Sex and the Supremacy of Christ, edited by John Piper and Justin Taylor (Crossway, 2005), as well as to other webzines and publications. She is a frequent conference speaker for women’s ministry events and also maintains a blog, Radical Womanhood.