Reading: 1 Corinthians 3: 1-9
Paul spent a year and a half with the church in Corinth. He established the church and spent the rest of this time teaching them how to live as Christians in a pagan culture. After laying what he thought was a solid foundation and moving on to other missionary work, Paul now realized the church in Corinth is struggling. He hears how they have lost their focus on God and are squabbling over which human leader to follow. Paul identifies their spiritual immaturity and accurately asks, “are you not worldly?” as they fight amongst themselves.
Paul tries to reframe their focus and to get them moving forward and growing in Christ again. He knows he had a role in developing the church, but Paul also firmly believes that only God has the power. He also knows that Apollos has a role to play as well. Paul sees Apollos as a fellow worker, not as competition, as the church in Corinth does. Paul reminds them of all of this with the great line we find in verse six: “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow”. Paul seeks to return their focus to God and to the things of God.
In reading this passage, we too are reminded of our need to stay focused on what really matters, on the only thing with the power to transform lives: God. In our churches and ministries, we need our energy focused on God and doing God’s work in our world – not on the color of the new carpet or on the style of worship or on any other earthly matter. As the body, when we focus on heavenly things, we grow in faith and God will bless our efforts.
There is also a personal level to Paul’s call to focus on God. Do we as individuals remain connected to God and stay focused on His will in our lives or do we allow other things in, drawing us away? We must be aware of the pull and lure of outside voices and must remain dedicated to our own faith practices. It is when we falter within that we are more prone to see division rather than unity in the larger body. May we tend well to our own souls so that we may be part of the larger body’s aim for the same goal: a living, breathing, active, growing faith in Jesus Christ.