Submitted by Jan on Tue, 07/02/2017 – 10:29
Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany
Year A (2016-2017)
Bible Book: 1 Corinthians
Verse: 1 – 9
Texts: 1 Corinthians 3:1-9 and Matthew 5:21-37
When Paul wrote his first letter to the Corinthians, he wrote to a divided church: different members were following different leaders, resulting in quarrels among the members. Our focus text, 1 Corinthians 3:1-9, identifies two of these leaders, Paul himself and Apollos, another Christian teacher. Paul then goes on to explain that neither he nor Apollos is a leader to be followed exclusively, they are both just servants, each helping to grow God’s kingdom. In verse 9, Paul writes “For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.” The problem is that the Corinthians do not recognize the full nature and scope of the kingdom God is growing.
Our second text highlights one essential aspect of that kingdom, that we are to reconcile with each other, just as we reconcile with Christ. In Jesus’ words, “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.” [Matthew 5:23-24] The lesson for the Corinthians is that they must overcome their quarrels so that they can help build the kingdom God wants to see.
But even reconciliation is a limited view of God’s kingdom. A much richer description is given in the full Sermon on the Mount, of which our second text is just one small part. The full Sermon describes a kingdom very different from more conventional human kingdoms. God’s kingdom is a kingdom in which the meek and merciful are blessed, in which conventional norms are turned on their heads, in which we love our enemies, and in which we do not judge. This is the kingdom that the Corinthians are asked to build, and that we also are asked to build.
It is a kingdom in which judgment and stigma are no longer barriers to human interaction. It is a kingdom in which we reconcile with each other, even when we do not fully understand each other. It is a kingdom in which we all work together to win the battle against AIDS.
To Think About: What can I do today to help bring reconciliation among all of God’s children and to help grow God’s kingdom on earth?
Author: Dr. David Barstow. President, EMPACT Africa