In 1 Corinthians Chapter 1 we read of Paul greeting and encouraging the Corinthian church. He then has a quick switch over to bringing correction to them for several areas of immaturity - including their quarrels over leadership. This time of “leadership correction”, which started in chapter 1 verse 10, will not only continue in today’s reading in chapter 2 but will, in fact, continue all of the way to chapter 4, verse 21. Clearly there is going to be a lot of unpack in this letter from Paul over the coming days but for now - let’s dive into all he has to say in Chapter 2.
In this portion of the letter Paul takes time in verses 1-5 to remind the Corinthian church of the straightforward and plain manner with which he shared the gospel with them when he founded the church, which we read about in Acts 18. And then in verses 6-16 he reminds them that the gospel that he preached was not some incredibly eloquent man made message but rather one fully inspired by and delivered through the influence and power of the Holy Spirit. In other words, he’s reminding them to keep the main thing the main thing because clearly, in the few years that have passed since the church was founded, the people's focus has begun to veer off of things of the Lord and on to the things of man. They hadn’t gone fully off the rails but they were definitely falling out of alignment. And that realignment of the church and God’s people is the heartbeat and goal of Paul’s letter.
Can anyone else relate to this Corinthian church? Regularly finding in yourself the need to realign and recalibrate with Jesus? This is one of the many reasons why it is so important for us to take time daily to spend time with Jesus - reading his word, worshiping, and praying - but then also stopping long enough to LISTEN.
Listening. It’s a struggle we all face from the earliest days of our lives. When you are a child growing up you are told to listen. As you grow into adulthood you have to learn to not just hear but truly listen to your boss, your spouse, and your kids. It’s kind of ironic that in a world filled with constant noise, the art of listening is a quickly diminishing skill. Why is that?
Scientists have discovered that this continuous exposure to noise can actually cause stress, anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, heart disease, and many other health problems including hearing loss from the constant influx of sound through our earbuds. In fact, television, internet, radio, and phones intrude so much of our day that the average person only gets an average of 1 hour of “peace and quiet” each day - and that number doesn’t include the “noise” that comes from those we are physically interacting with every single day.
Noise has become such a part of our lives that the idea of silence can actually cause a rise in anxiety for many and so, in response, we busy ourselves with more things, more tasks, more noise!
The church at Corinth was in a very similar position. No they didn’t have tv, or cell phones, or the internet to add to their daily “noise” but what they did have was the noise of the thoughts, opinions, and desires of others around them. The chatter around the community camp fires. The complaining expressed around the dinner table. The backbiting that took place behind closed doors. And somewhere along the way the people had replaced the voice of the Holy Spirit with the noise of the world around them - steering them off course - causing them to bicker over things such as leadership and status rather than using that time and energy to spread the good news of the gospel.
So what does Paul tell them to do? Does he swoop in with a new grand level of theology? No. He simply reminds them of that same Gospel that he preached to them several years before. He reminded them of the savior that gave his life on the cross for their sins). He reminded them of the purpose and power of the Holy Spirit. He reminded them that they have been set a part - called to lives far greater than they could ever think or imagine. But they must keep their eyes fixed on Jesus.
And the same is true for us today. In a world full of noise that is vying for our time, attention, and even opinions it is paramount that we are intentional to slow down, quiet the noise, and read, pray, worship, and LISTEN at the feet of Jesus. Because for even the most wise and scholarly of Christians, there is still more! More of Him to receive. More of Him to learn. More ways in which we can grow in mercy, grace, and wisdom at the feet of Jesus.
For as 1 Corinthians 2:9 states: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him.”
My prayer for each of us today is that before we take that next step in our day. Before we have that conversation, or send that text message, or enter that meeting, we will take some time to refocus and recalibrate - that we will pray over our day and all that it entails - and then, we will stop and truly LISTEN for Him to speak.