As you read Paul’s letters to the Corinthian church, you might notice from time to time that his tone sounds angry. That’s because he is fighting for them, which sometimes looks like fighting with them. What is Paul fighting for?
Paul wants the church in Corinth to embrace its identity in Christ. He wants them to know “we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and we were all given one Spirit to drink” (1 Corinthians 12:13). He wants them to realize that we were called by God into fellowship with His Son (1 Corinthians 1:9). This is the basis for our call to unity.
Paul uses this image of being one body in a variety of ways throughout these letters. He writes about how our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, meant for holy purposes (1 Corinthians 6). He writes about the Lord’s Supper, when believers gather together to partake of the body of our Lord (1 Corinthians 11). He talks about how the Church is one body, made up of many parts (1 Corinthians 12). He writes about the resurrection of Jesus’ body, and how believers will experience that same resurrection (1 Corinthians 15). He encourages the Corinthian Christians to give to others in need because they are one (2 Corinthians 8).
The image of a body is a great picture of the Church. Just as we want each part of our physical bodies to function in unified and healthy ways, this should be our vision for the Church. Believers in Jesus are not merely a collection of individuals who share a Savior. We are one, united in Christ. This unity lies at the heart of these letters.
So here at the beginning of this reading plan, maybe a good place to start is by asking: where do you need to pursue unity? Is there anyone with whom you need to seek peace? If you aren’t sure how to answer those questions, ask the Lord to show you if there are any relationships in your life that need mending. Ask God to fight for your heart.
As you read through 1 and 2 Corinthians, think about what it means that the Church is one body made up of many parts. Think about what it means to live in that unity. Consider what it means to be part of the body of Christ.
Written by Russ Ramsey