When considering the mess that we often find ourselves in as individuals or churches due to our own ignorant, stupid, or shortsighted actions and sins I was encouraged by the Apostle Paul’s introductory word in 1 Corinthians 1:2-9.
“To those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours…I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, that in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge, even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you, so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Here is a church that was (1) divided over which non-local preacher they preferred, (2) endorsing sexual sin, including a man marrying his father’s wife, (3) rebelling against church discipline & suing one another, (4) violating the marriage covenant, (5) self-centered concerning their freedoms to the stumbling of others, (6) insubordinate to church authority, (7) perverting the Lord’s Supper, (8) misusing spiritual gifts, (9) unbiblical views of the resurrection, and (10) were slothful in their giving.
Yet, Paul could exclaim that they were sanctified (made holy) in Christ, called sanctified ones (“saints”), that he thanked God for them, they had been given God’s grace, Christ’s testimony had been confirmed in them, and that he was confident that Christ will confirm them as His and present them blameless before the judgment seat of Christ because of God’s faithfulness to His work in their lives. This is an incredible view of trusting in the power of Christ’s work on the cross and continued sanctifying work in the life of His believers. This is a trusting view of God’s power and faithfulness. Now, this wasn’t a license to sin (as the rest of the book is full of rebukes to grow up spiritually), but a view from the heavens of a group of people who were living in the sewers.
Despite all the things that we do to mess up, this introduction should encourage us that if Paul could speak so boldly to such a thoroughly messed up group of people we too should have hope. A hope and trust in the power of our Lord Jesus Christ. A hope and trust that together with Christ and through Christ we too can live a life that matches this introduction more and more.