Paul shares some wonderful things with the Corinthians in 1:4-9. He speaks of:
- the grace given to them in Jesus (v. 4),
- their enrichment in every way (v. 5),
- confirmation that Christ was present among them (v. 6),
- their abundance of spiritual gifts (v. 7),
- how God would keep them to the end so that they might be blameless (v. 8),
- God’s faithfulness (v. 9).
If you haven’t read this in a while, let me encourage you to do so. It’s uplifting to be reminded of our Father’s work among us. I’m afraid that too often we tend to think that all of the work in churches gets done by humans. Passages such as this one rightly remind us of the truth that any work that gets done happens because of His blessing and enabling. This is a foundational truth and one we’ll do well to remember.
But for all of that, there was something burdening Paul’s heart. Life wasn’t always sunshine and rainbows and when there were issues that threatened the blessings he had just spoken of, Paul didn’t hesitate to bring them up. The problem at Corinth (or at least the one he starts with), was their divisiveness. It wasn’t a matter of getting on the right page—God had put them on the right page in Jesus. Their challenge was to stay on it. If God made man for community (and He did), then divisiveness is of the devil. Divide-isolate-conquer has always been a significant part of his strategy. He employed it successfully with Eve and later with Israel. Just about every church that Paul wrote was at some level struggling with unity. Satan is good at what he does—but he’s no better than we allow him to be!