Scripture: 1 Corinthians 3:10-23
Key verses: (11, 16) “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid; that foundation is Christ… Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?”
Reflection: There was a meme floating around the internet in the days leading up to Thanksgiving this year that depicted a complex holiday seating chart. The cartoon had the chart posted on a wall as if it were a strategy map for an upcoming battle, and the hosting couple, dressed as generals, were plotting how best to seat their guests to avoid conflict: progressive relatives at one end of the table, conservatives at the other end, vegans in their own turkey-free zone, and children relegated to their own corner table. There was something there for anyone with a family to chuckle at.
It is no secret that every family is made up of individuals who can sometimes have very different convictions, gifts, and values. This is certainly true of the church. What I find helpful about this passage is that Paul reminds us of two important features of our life together as followers of Christ. The first is that Paul draws a distinction between human leaders and Jesus Christ. For Paul, Christ is the foundation for our collective life. Human leaders come and go, each with their own gifts, ideas for ministries, and styles of leadership – some we like, and others we have to work hard to accept. But it is Christ who is constant in every season, and who calls us in each of those seasons to discern together how to be faithful to him and his promises. Anyone who has ever become a committee chair and been handed a binder of minutes for how things have been done in the past might find this to be good news. Remembering Christ as our foundation can help us to discern which past ideas still feel faithful in a new season, and which might need to be put to rest so that fresh ideas can come to fruiting – all the while affirming the faithfulness of those who have gone before.
The second is that God’s Spirit is with us. Here, when Paul says, “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you,” he is talking about the community as a whole. God’s Spirit lives within us together, which means that there is something vital about sharing faith with others. We need each other. Look at any church that people describe as “really alive” and you will see that it really is just a group of people who have come together to be attentive to God’s Spirit on the move here and now. Their intuition is that seeking God is best done together, not separately, and they have become willing to deal with the imperfections of community life while they watch and wait for God’s Spirit to stir.
Take a few minutes to think about these two truths of community life, and where they challenge you. Do you need to work on patience with other people’s ideas and styles? Or might you need to be challenged to delve more deeply into community life, because that is how your own faith might be reignited?
Prayer: Dear God, you promise that, where two or three are gathered, you are in the midst of them. Guide me as I commit to my community of faith. Help me to be patient, to be open, to be discerning, and to be hopeful in what is sometimes a messy endeavor, so that I might catch a glimpse of how you work within our human life. Amen.
Author: Anna Dickson
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].