Sunday, July 7, 2019
Paul addressed some pretty significant challenges in the church in Corinth: a large metropolitan city with incredible diversity. A first-century world filled with diverse religious beliefs and practices, international cultures and traditions, wide gaps between the rich and the poor, polarizing social and political convictions, and so much more. Sound familiar?
“…few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you.“1 Corinthians 1:26
Almost all of the issues in Corinth can be traced back to the contrast between rich and poor. Many of the wealthy and powerful of which Paul speaks were likely well traveled, versed in the latest trends, educated, influential among the elite and familiar with the best foods, latest styles and current events. The poor of the day, just like today, illustrate a stark contrast between lifestyles and experiences.
CHURCH OF CONTRASTS
Now. bring these wise, rich, famous and powerful people together with a number of poor people and slaves–and every point in between–and you have the first-century church in Corinth. Here, the rules change because all are equal before the cross of Christ. Just look at 1 Corinthians 11 with men and women wearing the latest fashion and hairstyles (vss. 1-16) and what was happening during the Lord’s Supper (vss. 11:20-22). Mix this with the cacophony of voices competing for attention in chapter 14.
Key to those challenges was keeping their focus upon Christ and not upon the differences between each other. This truth lies at the center of our study about the roles of men and women in the church.