Sometimes it is easy to forget the pertinence and potency of the Bible to our modern lives. After all, it was written centuries ago, to ancient cultures and ancient peoples. Yet, many times these peoples and cultures are surprisingly similar to those that surround us today. 1 Corinthians is no exception!
A Little Background…
1 Corinthians was written by Paul to the church of Corinth. Corinth was a Mediterranean commerce town situated in southern Greece. The city, although not a university town like Athens, still regarded philosophy and wisdom with a high respect. Corinth was also notorious for its temples and pagan practices in worshiping the Greek gods. Unlike Paul’s earlier missionary encounters with the Jews, Corinth’s citizens were obviously gentiles, but many were eager to hear the good news of Jesus Christ.
Why Is It Still Relevant?
One of the first clues to why 1 Corinthians is so applicable today is in the text itself. Paul writes,
To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ – their Lord and ours…
Even though the Corinthians were his primary audience, Paul realized that, ultimately, his audience was much broader – it extended to us, centuries later! (Or any one who adopts Christ’s identity)
That is what is so amazing about 1 Corinthians, or any book of the Bible for that matter! It is not just written by Paul, but by God himself. This results in relevant, applicable words of wisdom that stretch across decades, centuries, even millennia, and never loose their meaning!
A quick illustration…
I am sure that you have read through the more popular books of the Bible countless times; at least once, probably more like ten… Like you, there are some books of the Bible (Philippians, Corinthians, Hebrews, Romans, etc.) I have read so many times now, that, if they were ordinary books, I would hate by now! Instead, I feel as if I am reading them for the first time – even though it is probably the twentieth! Every time I read them, God opens a new window into His character for my heart to explore, and reveals a new facet of my ever-growing faith, which proves the potency and relevance of Scripture.
This amazing characteristic of God’s Word – to be fresh and pertinent despite such a broad span of time – reminds me of a verse I recently read in Psalm 119:96,
To all perfection I see a limit; but your commands are boundless.
So, to wrap up, the first reason why 1 Corinthians is still incredibly applicable to your modern life is because it was written by the Author of our faith, the Author of the universe, and the Author of perfection: your Heavenly Father!
Why Is 1 Corinthians Especially Relevant?
The second reason for 1 Corinthians’ specific appeal to modern Christians, is because of the similarities between the Corinthians’ struggles and your own struggles!
If you look at a snapshot of the themes in Paul’s letter, you might see something like this:
- Arguments Among Christians
- The Problems With Worldly Wisdom (and Worldly Philosophers)
- Dealing with Sins and Immorality
- Living Apart From Popular Culture
- Advice About Marriage
- Freedom In Christ
- Your Spiritual Gifts
You hopefully get the point. The church in Corinth struggled with many of the same problems YOU struggle with. They are not specific to you, but are common to all humans (which, by the way, have not changed much over the years, if you haven’t noticed 🙂 The Corinthians, in particular, had a tough situation. They were daily surrounded by temptations to abandon their true identity in Christ, and adopt the mistaken identities of the world.
Sounds a lot like today, doesn’t it? We are DAILY faced with decisions regarding our beliefs; I really like this tune, but it has some sketchy lyrics… Everyone else is wearing this style of shorts, but they seem a little too short… Does it really say in the Bible not to see R-rated movies??…
Everyone can relate, even the Corinthians! Sure, their problems were slightly different, but the root problem was their tendency to live of the world – a problem we modern Christians face constantly. Like the Corinthians, we must realize that to progress in our faith, we must stop looking back to see what the world thinks of us. Charlotte Bronte, author of Jane Eyre, once wrote,
I try to avoid looking forward or backward, and try to keep looking upward.
I couldn’t have said it better. This week, whenever you are tempted to look around you and compare, challenge yourself to look up. I am excited to learn alongside the Corinthians on how to be brave enough to abandon worldly identities for Christ, and I hope you are too! Take Paul’s words to heart, because he not only wrote them for the Corinthians; he also wrote them for YOU.
Look upward, and keep living for Christ!