Day 1: 1 Corinthians 1:1-9
Day 2: 1 Corinthians 1:10-17
Day 3: 1 Corinthians 1:18-31
Day 4: 1 Corinthians 2:1-5
Day 5: 1 Corinthians 2:6-16
Consider these questions as you reflect on each day’s readings:
- Where do you see examples of God’s presence and goodness?
- Where do you see examples of the church’s brokenness?
- Do you see any parallels between something you’re reading, and something in our own church community? Pray for God’s presence and goodness to break into our own brokenness.
This fall, we’re stepping into a new teaching series that we’re calling, “Half-Way to Heaven: Encountering God Through His Family (The Church!)”. And we’re going to explore one of the most powerful and transforming – yet at the same time, counter-intuitive and surprising – realities about how God has chosen to bring His presence into the world.
When most of us think of “heaven”, there are all sorts of images that may come to mind. Sky and clouds. Angels. Brilliant brightness. A beach paradise. Never-ending joy. Or perhaps for you, all of that is just a big pipe dream.
But one of the images of heaven that comes to mind for very few of us... is the Church. And this is even true for most of us who are part of the Church.
The Church is the community of God’s people. Ordinary people all over the world that are learning to live with Jesus as Lord.
But there is also something very extrodinary about this ordinary group of people. Because the Church, believe it or not, is the closest thing to Heaven anywhere on earth. Believe it or not, the Church is the place where God’s presence lives on earth. Some of the earliest Christian leaders called the Church, “The Temple of God” – the place where God dwells; the place where heaven and earth collide.
Now, there are all sorts of reasons to find this hard to believe. For many of us, our experience of “church” hasn’t been particularly heavenly. Even if we haven’t necessarily had bad experiences of the church – though many people certainly have – it wouldn’t necessarily be the first place that comes to mind when we think of our most heavenly experiences in life.
But over and over in the New Testament, we are given images and stories and reminders that, even though we struggle to see it, the Church – the community of God’s people – is the place where the presence and power of God is touching down to earth. It’s the place where heaven and earth collide. And it’s the place where God makes it His business to constantly collide into our lives with grace and truth that makes Him more known, and makes us more whole.
And so, through this series, you’re invited to track together, church, through Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. This was a young community of Jesus-followers who were in the throws of all sorts of “collisions” – divisions and arguments, sexual misconduct, insiders and outsiders, haves and have-nots, abuses of power, and misunderstandings of Jesus’ power.
And in the midst of all these broken ways of relating, the Apostle Paul wrote to this community to remind them about who they were, now that they belonged to Jesus. They were the place that God dwelled. They were “holy ones” (1:2). They were the ones who had been enriched in every way because of the grace they had been given in Christ (1:4-5). They were in deep and intimate fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ, God’s Son (1:9). In short, they were the place that God dwelled!
So as you read through this book over the next several weeks, make sure to notice regularly the places of tension in all this. Both in the Corinthian community and in ours. In Christ, the community of His people – the Church – has been given an incredible new identity and calling. Yet, there are all sorts of ways we find ourselves still stuck closer to earth than to heaven.
So let it lead you to pray, and invite Jesus into more of you and more of our church! Let it lead you to seek God’s grace in Jesus, and to give grace to others. Let it lead you to pursue love in ways that look like the ways God has loved you. And as we do these things together, believe that we will see more of Jesus in our midst. Believe that more of Heaven will collide with us on earth!
For a great summary of what’s in store in this book, check out this Bible Project video!