WEEK THREE, DAY ONE, COMMON ENGLISH BIBLE COMPANION
WEEK THREE THEME: COMMUNITY
DAY ONE THEME: WE WERE MADE FOR COMMUNITY
SCRIPTURE: I CORINTHIANS 1:1-9 (CEB)
“From Paul, called by God’s will to be an apostle of Jesus Christ, and from Sosthenes our brother. To God’s church that is in Corinth: To those who have been made holy to God in Christ Jesus, who are called to be God’s people. Together with all those who call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in every place — he’s their Lord and ours!
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God always for you, because of God’s grace that was given to you in Christ Jesus. That is, you were made rich through him in everything in all your communication and every kind of knowledge, in the same way that the testimony about Christ was confirmed with you. The result is that you aren’t missing any spiritual gift while you wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will also confirm your testimony about Christ until the end so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, and you were called by him to partnership with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
THE WORD OF GOD FOR THE PEOPLE OF GOD – THANKS BE TO GOD!
SOAKING IT IN: At this point in I Corinthians, Paul has a strong personal relationship with God, and a deep understanding of the Kingdom of God. But that was not how it all began with him. He was once a killer of the Kingdom of God pursuing to stomp out the movement of Jesus that was still going and growing after Jesus’ death and resurrection. The crucifixion had not stopped the Kingdom of God, it had fueled it by releasing the Holy Spirit on Pentecost.
Paul, a strong Jew – ahead of his years – was zealous to be rid of such nonsense and the threat to the Jewish tradition. Paul often refers to himself as “Jew among the Jews” – a leader, strong and confident and convicted. However, on the Damascus Road, his life and mission were abruptly changed forever, turning him 180 degress in the other direction. Through temporary blindness that hit him suddenly throwing him from his horse he encountered Jesus. He heard Jesus verbally and in a short time, God sent Ananias to heal his sight and lead Paul into the Kingdom of God.
Paul’s previous mission to destroy Christians was so feared that Ananias had to double check this call to go to Paul as he immediately feared for his life. In obedience, Ananias did go to Paul and through his leadership and encouragement, Paul became just as zealous and confident and convicted that the whole world should know Jesus and become citizens in the Kingdom of God. This amazing testimony gives Paul the authority of his own story to lead others into community and fellowship for the sake of God’s Kingdom. He doesn’t question their creditionals for becoming Christian to judge their worthiness, he travels and presents and invites all to enter into God’s Kingdom sharing in God’s mission to reach the whole world.
This Jew among the Jews abandons his Jewish tradition and seek Gentiles and Jews alike for God’s Kingdom. God’s Kingdom is for all who choose to follow God’s lead, listening through His Spirit and following the example of Christ. Also as Christian followers, we are to follow Pauls’ example to reach out and bring in and allow God to do his good work in the lives of all his children. Like Ananias who mentored Paul, we are to be blind to our judgments and opinions and go bring all who will enter into the fellowship and perfection of God’s Kingdom.
Paul had plowed a totally different field until he heard Jesus speak his name. Blinded by the experience, Paul was totally shut down wondering what in the world he has experienced. I can imagine the confusion and despair he must have felt – no longer strong, confident or convicted! Jesus’ question must have been ringing in his ears – …”why do you persecute me?… Had Ananias refused to be that vessel – that part of bringing Paul into full understanding of what was going on and God’s desire to use him now for God’s Kingdom – then Paul may have just shrinked up and died. As Kingdom dwellers, we must be ready and available to assist others on their spiritual development – not as an expert, but as a one who at one time stood in similar shoes – God sent someone to nurture us along and help us find our way! Paying it forward is such a gift and in doing so it encourages our walk farther as well.
Praise be to God for his mysterious and miraculous ways!