Have you ever gotten stuck in one part of the Bible?
Over the last months, I’ve set up camp in some of the letters Paul wrote to the early church. Specifically 1 and 2 Corinthians.
Apparently, Corinthians were a terrible group of people. They were the real people of those days seeking to find the Truth. The rough crowd. The gossipers. The unruly. The heavy drinkers. The sexually promiscuous. The average person, in other words. And as they joined in the church, they brought their many issues with them. Just like today’s church.
They didn’t become believers one day and then pillars of the faith the next. Any more than believers do today.
Before I became a Christian, I used to hold up this truth as one of the reasons why I would never become a Christian. They were a bunch of hypocrites, right? People who said one thing and did another. Told me to live my life one way, but led theirs another. I mean, half of them weren’t even nice people. It seems like nice would be one of the bare minimum requirements for a follower of Jesus, right?
It really doesn’t work that way.
Think about this:
Let’s say you came into a large sum of money. So large, in fact, that it was beyond your ability to know what would be best to do with it. So, you found yourself a financial planner to help you understand the best way to go. You’d heard from everyone in your community about this person. How amazing they were with financial planning. How they’d tripled someone’s savings somehow. By all accounts they were the best person you could possibly learn from.
After a few months of them managing your money, you’d set up a lunch date to discuss how things were going. As the check was brought to the table, the planner insisted on paying the bill. But, after taking her credit card, the waiter returned to notify her discreetly that the card had been declined.
Your heart would fill with both panic and anger. How could this person be everything everyone said when they couldn’t even manage their own money? What a liar. You’d been duped! You needed to take all of your money, stick it under your mattress and never trust another person with it again! That would show them! I mean, even the people who told you about this planner were in on it! No one can be trusted!
The truth is, the financial planner could actually be very good at understanding money. They could know all of the right things to do with it that would cause you great success. They could in fact, be the very best resource you would ever find. But that doesn’t mean they always follow their own advice or what they know to be right. Maybe they simply struggle in some areas. Maybe others in their family are draining them.
Real faith is very similar.
Just because we know the right things to do, doesn’t mean we always do them.
Paul himself lamented, “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.” Romans 7:15 NLT.
Can I get an Amen on that one? Our world is quite the mess, and we don’t always react like we mean to, or want to, or know is best.
So was the world of Paul back when these letters were written by him. It’s striking, in fact, how similar they are to today. Striking how much his heart aches for the hypocritical issues compounding the church. Striking how it grieves him just as it grieves so many of us.
And so, I’m setting up camp in those chapters. I’m reading them again and again. Because I know that God has something He wants to show me there.
The Corinthians were essentially failing at this thing called Christianity. They’d given their hearts and then backtracked. Just like the rest of us, when we’re honest about what our faith truly looks like.
Yes, the pressure to suddenly “play the part” is massive. But, Jesus isn’t asking us to audition for a part in the world’s largest scam.
He’s asking for our honesty. The baring of our souls. The really, dirty, embarrassing, disgusting, truth of who we are at our cores.
Because He loves that we long for more than that in our lives. He loves that we are continually reaching toward Him. Even if it’s for the second or third (or more) time.
Linger where He leads you. Discover a new translation. But, make an effort to get to know God through the Bible. It’s one of the most effective ways that He’ll speak to you, direct your steps, and teach you the things you long to know about life.
No, we can’t always rely on other Christians to do the right things, or teach us the right things. We weren’t meant to rely on them. Rely on Christ as He teaches you through His Word. Discover it for yourself.
Don’t know where to start? Set up camp with me in 1 and 2 Corinthians and let’s chat about it.