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Posts tagged "1 Corinthians"


Hopelessly Devoted: First Corinthians Chapter Four Verses Three Through Four

This entry comes from Paul Walker’s “Almost Daily Devotional”:

It’s been said that life is like a courtroom. We find we need to defend ourselves against the judgment and accusation of others. Sometimes that judgment is real; more often, it is imagined. Another person’s “success,” or what appears to be success to us, will cause us to judge ourselves. You know the saying: “you are your own worst critic.” So many of our prison sentences are self-imposed.

St. Paul knew this universal proclivity but also knew the way to commute the sentence. “I care very little, however, if I am judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not vindicate me. It is the Lord who judges me” (1 Corinthians 4:3-4). What Paul is saying is the lens by which we perceive judgment — whether from ourselves or others — is so warped and faulty that it is better to disregard the accusations altogether.

And in any case, the only person fit for the job of judgment is the Lord. And if that is the case, then go ahead and walk scot-free out of that courtroom door. And while you’re at it, put your hand in the hand of the man who said, “I did not come to judge the world but to save the world” (John 12:47). For He is our only Mediator and Advocate.

“Almighty and everlasting God, you are always more ready to hear than we are to pray, and to give more than we either desire or deserve: Pour upon us the abundance of your mercy, forgiving us those things of which our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things for which we are not worthy to ask, except through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ our Savior; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.”  (Proper 22 – Book of Common Prayer p. 234)

Hopelessly Devoted: 1 Corinthians Chapter Three Verses Six and Seven

This morning’s devotion comes to us from none other than the President of the Mockingboard, Aaron Zimmerman.

I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. (1 Corinthians 3:6-7, ESV)

Here again we see Paul addressing the bickering problems among the Corinthians. But rather than addressing the external behavior, Paul realizes the real problem is internal and theological.

dwight-schrute-the-office-fan-artPaul knows that there are two approaches to life for all human beings. The first approach is human-centered. Men and women in this camp see themselves as in control of their lives. This is like The Office’s Dwight Schrute quoting Billy Zane’s character in Titanic: “A man makes his own luck.” In other words, human beings have the ability to judge people and events, map out their lives, and control their destiny. Students at elite colleges positively ooze with this kind of thinking. This is the human-centered view of life. In the spiritual realm, this view is called justification by works: making oneself acceptable to God through good behavior.

The second approach to life is God-centered. In this view, people are seen as they are, flawed and broken, prone to compulsive acting-out. Like the Harvard student who plays a video game for 10 hours straight, despite the fact that he has a paper due and is already on academic probation. Or like the suburban mother who regularly spends thousands of dollars on clothes she doesn’t need. Or the executive who is a furtive alcoholic. Or the high-achieving honor-roll student who is anorexic and cuts herself. Or the Bible study leader who obsesses over pornography. Thus, unlike in the human-centered view, the clear thinking God-centered man or woman no longer places the burden of “getting better” on the ones who are ill. The God-centered view knows that people need a divine rescuer—like sick people need a doctor—and that this never stops being true, even for “serious” Christians.

The Corinthians are decidedly human-centered. As a result, as we see in this passage, they quarrel about their spiritual leaders. Since they believe their personal growth is their responsibility, they know they better pick the right guru! Paul attacks this view. He steers them back to reality: God is the one who calls, redeems, saves, and continues to heal. Paul says that he and his co-pastor Apollos are nothing. An amazing thing to say! Can you imagine TV preachers saying that? But Paul says conclusively: only God gives the growth.

Do you feel like you control your closeness to God? Is your “walk with Christ,” your “spiritual journey,” all up to you? Paul says only God gives the growth. See the illustration Paul uses to close the argument: God is the gardener, and you are simply a plant in the field. So don’t do something, just sit there!

Everything Is Not OK (on Parenthood)… the Bad Thing Is Already Happening

Have you been watching the new season of Parenthood? This show continues to deliver the goods, which mostly come in the form of true-to-life suffering, chaos, loss, and grace, love, and peace amidst it all—very much in line with the Mockingbird conference last week in Charlottesville. Spoiler alert! Don’t read on if you are a […]

Capon, Silverstein and the Foolishness of the Cross

A couple of literary meditations – one religious, one secular, both sacred – on this Sunday’s Lectionary reading, 1 Corinthians 1:18-25, and the “foolishness” of the cross. First, from Robert Farrar Capon’s Kingdom, Grace, Judgment: Paradox, Outrage, and Vindication in the Parables of Jesus: Direct, straight-line, intervening power does, of course, have many uses. With […]

A Christmas (Carol) Reflection

“Ah! You do not know the weight and length of strong chain you bear yourself! It was as full and as long as this seven Christmas eves ago and you have labored on it since. Ah, it is a ponderous chain!” – Jacob Marley This is how Jacob Marley responds to Ebenezer Scrooge’s curiosity about […]

Tonight We Take a Look at The Man in Black: Johnny Cash

Hey Everyone, For tonight’s Mockingbird Hour we’re going to take a look at one of the most influential American musicians of our time, the late, great Johnny Cash. Come one, come all! You may be thinking, “But I don’t like country.” Or you might be thinking, “Who the heck is Johnny Cash?” Well, he was […]

Seeing is Believing, but. . .

For all of us looking for the Holy Grail of sure-to-please cocktail party anecdotes–you know, the elusive mix of neuroscience and Vegas magic–well, look no further. In an article entitled Magic and the Brain: Teller Reveals the Neuroscience of Illusion, Jonah (the) Lehrer explains: For Teller (that’s his full legal name), magic is more than […]

The Intolerable Message of Forgiveness

An official “Certificate of Debaptism,” is now available for download. By signing this certificate, over 100,000 people (according to the website) to date have declared that: I ________ having been subjected to the Rite of Christian Baptism in infancy (before reaching an age of consent), hereby publicly revoke any implications of that Rite and renounce […]