Posts Tagged ‘Corinthians’

A lot of folks grab onto this set of scriptures in Corinthians and use to wax eloquently about the end times, the last trumpet and all that. But I’m much more intrigued by the mystery of change in the “twinkling of an eye.” The mystery is not when this will happen but the process and result.

I Corinthians 15:51-52a
Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.

A quick search on the Internet shows the “twinkling of an eye” is actually at the speed of light, compared to a blink (which is controlled and is generally between 300 and 400 milliseconds). But the twink is more like 1/6,000,000,000th of a second. This means, if you blink, you miss it. This means, in human terms, it’s instantaneous. This means it’s probably not of this dimension. You know what I mean? It’s “other time.”

Now, if that is not a mystery, I don’t know what is.

I wish Christians spent more time talking about the mysteries of their own religion. Instead, we are all grounded into habit and ritual and norms and the idea of mystery has become abnormal.

It’s in the mystery, in the things of twink, that anything is possible. Healings and love and transformations can happen that fast. God is outside of time. God lives in the twink.

Read Full Post »

Paul is really pulling my chain in the entire 5th chapter of I Corinthians. I can’t say I’m going to disassociate with folks who are believers and yet behave badly. I’m too close to behaving badly myself. So what can I glean?

I Corinthians 5:11
But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler.

Basically, whether we are believers or not believers, our behaviors will act like the Sorting Hat in the Harry Potter novels. Unconsciously, we tend to either congregate with those who behave similarly or avoid those who don’t. Some behaviors I can simply tolerate. Others I cannot.

I struggle enough with “judging” others without escalating that condition. And yet, if I am personally hurt by someone through one of these negative acts, I don’t think I’d go out of my way to have tea with them either. But I cannot rail against them, for ultimately, I would merely be one of the angry crowd who chased after the woman who was caught in adultery. She had truly done that thing, but Christ offered mercy. Can I do any less?

(This post was started on May 2nd, but not completed until September. Oh well.)

Read Full Post »

Paul is certainly confident as a prototype for believers: become like me, follow me, imitate me. Paul was a zealot before he met Christ and he was certainly one afterward. I could no more imitate him than I can imitate Christ. Ah, there’s the difference. . .

Galatians 4:12
I plead with you, brothers, become like me, . . .
I Corinthians 4:16
Therefore I urge you to imitate me.
I Corinthians 11:1
Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.
Philippians 3:17
Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you.

To follow Paul is an outside/in method while following Christ is an inside/out endeavor.

Despite the freedoms Paul articulates as a follower of Jesus, having been a Pharisee for many years, he still had a very law-based mentality and world view. He was an administrator, an organizer. He could see how things would work out best. He loved his churches and he loved his people, but he did get frustrated. He was impatient. He continually aimed for perfection (Christ) and condemned himself often (not in a bad way, just as a confession) for missing the mark. He knew he was less than perfect and only Christ within made up the difference. Nonetheless, it was Paul who set up the churches with structure. He was an academic. He laid out the reasons for everything he said. He was a man of logic and reason. I’d say a good portion of our modern day churches have evolved out of the teachings and interpretations of Paul.

But when Jesus calls us to “follow him,” I think he is drawing us to the Kingdom. It is Jesus who consistently lays out the paradoxes of internal following. Everything is the opposite of what we would think: turning the other cheek, loving our enemies, going the extra mile, meekness is victor, weakness is strength and so on.

For Jesus it is not really “become LIKE me,” it’s become ME.

This is much more mysterious. When Jesus taught about “eating his flesh and drinking his blood,” a lot of disciples fled. This entire teaching on Jesus being the “bread of life” terrified most of his followers. [John 6:41-66] They fled because they understood, not because it was beyond them. Every time Jesus spoke bluntly about his intentions, there was an uproar.

With Jesus, what seems impossible is possible; what is lost can be found; what dies can be raised up.

In the face of these kinds of truths, do the outer trappings really matter: Robes or no robes, dunking or sprinkling, wine or grape juice, men or women, buildings or no buildings, and so on.

“On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” [John 14:20]

Read Full Post »

Perfectionism, in and of itself, is a bane. So, why in the world would Paul lay this mandate on the Corinthian churches? Of course, Jesus did the same thing in Matthew 5:48, “be perfect.” It must be internal excellence then and not external behaviors.

II Corinthians 13:11b
. . . Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.

In other words, aiming for perfection within is a good thing. And how do I do that? It’s what we’re all supposed to be about.

Christ within, the ultimate perfection, illuminating the path. Isn’t that the point? Becoming like Jesus is first and foremost about the interior life which then transforms the exterior–our behaviors respond to our thoughts and spirit. Where we make mistakes: sin, judge, and break basic commandments, we are given insight (hints) into the kind of work that must be done inside.

Until the “why” of my choices is understood and healed, my conduct will fall back to habits.

My college age daughter does not drive a car. She is afraid and anxious and these feelings override any desire she might have to learn. Something has to change within before she will make this leap. I have been saying to her to keep practicing; her fears will dissipate the more she drives. But then, she had an accident in a parking lot and before that, a tire blew out when she jumped a curb. Her practice alone is not working.

This is really no different from any of the behaviors I want to see reconstructed. I tend to judge others. Oh, I can say that I will not judge today. I will practice not judging. But what is making me judge? My own insecurities? My pride? My fear?

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear . . . [I John 4:18a]

I love the Christ whose Spirit is within me. That same Spirit of Christ is within others as well. How can I love my personal version and not the one outside myself?

Perfect: conforming to an ideal.

Read Full Post »

I know God is trying to get my attention: sometimes through people telling me of roadblocks ahead while other times through circumstances. But, like a bull in a china shop, I tend to charge right in. On occasion, the china escapes unscathed. But too often, there’s a great sound of shattering glass.

II Corinthians 12:20
For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder.

My independent streak started at a young age. My father died when I was only nine and I was a latch key kid for several years. My mother was a difficult woman who suffered from bipolar disorder (we only figured that out much later). She was unpredictable and ultimately, for me, unsafe. I told her as little as I could and I made many of my own decisions. These choices included getting married at eighteen (I was already a Junior in college), because I was sure I was ready to be out on my own, divorcing 5 years later, moving to New York City to be come “rich and famous.” These early years set up lots of walls.

It’s hard to hear or see warnings when a person is so doggone “capable.”

Somehow, I have allowed myself to believe that warnings are a negative thing. They are restrictions. They are penalties. But today, I have a new view.

God’s warnings are actually lighthouses. The beams of light give instruction and information: be careful, danger is nearby, be alert, watch! Everything is fine, just be on guard for challenges. Avoid unnecessary consequences. Change course if necessary. There is always another way to get there. I love you. I care about you.

As a parent, I have tried to be a lighthouse for my children. And don’t I do this out of my love for them? Would God do any less?

Read Full Post »

I used to make the mistake of thinking that networking was about figuring out what someone else could do for me. Now I understand, true networking is about the heart. Networking is just meeting people, listening to people, and caring about people. Jesus was the best “networker” ever!

II Corinthians 12:14a
Now I am ready to visit you for the third time, and I will not be a burden to you, because what I want is not your possessions but you. . . .

In years past, I have participated in a lot of mapped out “evangelism” programs that focused on getting the “client” (poor sap who answered the door in neighborhood canvassing), to YES. It was like a business transaction. It was my job to lay out the situation (sin) and what I had to offer to solve that problem. Accept Jesus and those problems will be covered by the blood and you get an all expenses paid trip to heaven at the end of the whole shebang.

It never occurred to me (back in the day) that “Evangelism Explosion” or the presentation of the “Four Spiritual Laws” or handing out bibles at the mall or tucking tracts into crevices at public places was a long way from relationship.

It takes time to reach the heart. It takes time to earn trust.

People who are in need of help do not require coercion or convincing. This is one reason people, who are poor, hungry, sick, and terrorized, respond easily to the outstretched hand of a loving God.

But our American culture is filled with “stuff.” We have bent ourselves to the lure and trappings of comfort and possessions. We are like two year olds: No! I can do it myself. I don’t need your help. Me. My. Mine. My way. More, more, more.

Who needs God when we have all the stuff? As long as someone thinks it’s about the stuff, he/she will not need to hear me.

I can only speak out of the heart for that is what makes me uniquely “me.” And in that time, I want to know that person. And if, in that exchange of selves, we discover a place of authenticity where I can offer the story of what I have experienced in Christ and how that relationship meets me daily at the point of true need, then that is a glory moment.

Read Full Post »

Hard to believe: but we do forget the good things and miracles. Paul laments about the Corinthians, Moses about the Israelites, and Lord knows what head shaking is going on in heaven about me. Haven’t there been miracles and signs & wonders in my life too?

II Corinthians 12:11
Now I have been [speaking like] a fool! But you forced me to it, for I ought to have been [saved the necessity and] commended by you. For I have not fallen short one bit or proved myself at all inferior to those superlative [false] apostles [of yours], even if I am nothing (a nobody).

For awhile, after something wonderful has happened, we talk about it and share the story and give praises to God who touched our 3-D world with a word and changed everything in an instant. For a very brief season, we are amazed and astounded. Wow! God did that? God healed me. God saved me from being hurt in a car accident. God brought my children back. God provided food, clothing, shelter, and a job, etc.

But we humans, and I know how human I am . . . we tend ask, “what have you done for me lately?”

I stand convicted of this.

As I read through Paul’s dealings with the Corinthian church, I can hear his deep frustration and hurt.

He’s like a mother who is astounded at her beloved child for whom she did everything, and yet, here is the kid in the Detention Center or pregnant or in the hospital for a drug overdose or laid out in a morgue. How could they forget our love? Why didn’t it matter?

Paul gave and gave of himself but still, it was not enough to sustain the faith over the distance. Jesus gave and gave too. And yet, people didn’t get the message at the root of their beings either.

The parable of the sower [Matthew 13:1-23] is about us too. More of us are the rocky path, the shallow soil and the thorn patch than good rich soil. We hear the truth, we see the truth, but we don’t remember.

Forgive me Lord. Keep me mindful today. Keep me mindful of your works and your word. Keep me mindful of you.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: