Thoughts on Paul's first letter to the Corinthians...
I've been in the first ten chapters of I Corinthians this morning. Reading it through with a macro-view, rather than our typical approach of ten or fifteen verses, paints an incredible picture of Paul's relationship with this church.
He absolutely pours out grace on them, promoting unity (1:10-17) and assuring them that what God has for them is far beyond their wildest imaginations (2:6-10) - it's obvious that he has great affection for this group...yet his words take an abrupt left turn, telling them, almost offhandedly, "You are still worldy...." (3:3). Then he outlines what consultants would call growth areas like immorality and their tendency to involve one another in legal disputes.
The passage that always cracks me up is 4:18,19: "Some of you have become arrogant, as if I were not coming to you. But I will come to you very soon, if the Lord is willing, and then I will find out not only how these arrogant people are talking but what power they have. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a whip, or in love and with a gentle spirit?"
Any parent who's ever said "Don't make me stop this car!" fully understands what Paul is feeling! :) This is all a great picture of leadership in the church...learning to balance the apostolic mandate of being the 'point man' for the faith while not neglecting the pastoral care of the people. Specialists need not apply.