“Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes; To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 1:1-3
If you want to know what a person is really passionate about, just listen to them as they speak. It doesn’t take very long to figure out what makes them tick; it’s that one thing they continue to bring up repeatedly. If there is any doubt as to what makes the apostle Paul tick, all we need to do is read the introduction and opening salutations of his first letter to the Church at Corinth. In particular, notice whose name continues to be lifted up.
Paul was zealous for his faith in Christ and eager to share the good news of God’s salvation throughout his known world. Being among God’s people and rejoicing in the promise of life in God’s kingdom is most certainly what fueled Paul’s fire. Throughout his missionary journeys, Paul endured hardship, imprisonment and even shipwrecks, yet nothing seemed to dampen his excitement for telling others about the power of God’s love made manifest in Christ’s victory over sin and death.
The gospel is a message of God’s perfect and unconditional love for his people. The news that sin no longer has the power to condemn those who have faith in Christ Jesus is too good to keep to ourselves. As people redeemed by Christ, we too are possessors of this good news. We have a wonderful gift to share with a world in need of God’s saving grace. Being among God’s people, in fellowship with the faithful and gathering for worship adds fuel for our fire just as it did for Paul. But once the fire is lit, we cannot sustain it by ourselves.
In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul teaches the Church that we need to remain steadfast in the hearing of the gospel. We need to share in the supper that is Christ’s body and blood and we need to live in faithful fellowship with all who share the gift of God’s grace and peace. As we live for ourselves, the fire burning within will certainly diminish.
Even faithful Christians need to hear the good news that God is active in their lives. We need to know and understand that no matter what may happen in this world, God’s grace and peace given through Christ Jesus cannot be overcome. In those times when we fall short of God’s expectation for us, we need to be reminded that our sins are forgiven and as such, God calls us all to be saints together in every time and place.
And so we too gather as did the Church in Paul’s time, in the name of Jesus in order to hear the message of the gospel. We too come to confess our sins, partake in the supper and receive the fullness of God’s mercy. There is no better place than to be in the presence of God and among his people. And so Paul greets us just as he greets those whom he writes to throughout the ages: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Amen!