I am writing to God’s church in Corinth,
The Church in Corinth had problems – and let’s not beat about the bush, they were real problems that threatened its very existence! There was open immorality (5:1), they had lawsuits against one another (6:7), there were public divisions amongst them (1:11), there was jealousy and quarrelling (3:3) and their fellowship meetings simply made things worse (11:17).
Immaturity as people and as Christian believers was at the root of it all.
BUT – it is still God’s Church!
For all the problems and immaturity, the believers in Corinth remained part of God’s stable and enduring Kingdom. Before coming Christians they had been deeply involved in a godless and unholy society. Corinth was a byword for sexual immorality; male and female prostitution was an accepted way of life, and the temple priests were themselves generally prostitutes. To say you had visited the temple carried sexual overtones.
Now, if you had grown up in that kind of environment, to think and behave differently as a Christian was a massive change. So while these immature believers had set out to follow Jesus a change of behaviour and lifestyle was going to take time.
That remains the case in our society today; to become a Jesus follower does not immediately change a person’s pattern of behaviour. Growth towards mature and holy Christian living takes time. This whole letter from Paul to the Corinthian believers is part of their education in Christian living; it assumes they are on a pathway of discovery and learning. However imperfect they may have been, they remained part of God’s Church moving forward towards a goal defined by the perfect life of Jesus. Sure, they carried very prominent ‘L’ plates, but they were on the right road.
It is important for us to remember that as we see new folk setting out on the pathway of following Jesus. Their lives will not be defined by some kind of perfection, but only an active desire to become the person God intended them to be.