Connections 11.29.2020: Christian Holism

1 Corinthians 1:1-10

I remember thinking about what is would be like when I reached certain milestones. For example, I recall a day when I was in fifth grade and it occurred to me that I had to go to school for seven more years before I could graduate from high school. It seemed like such a long time. It turned out not to be. At least that’s how it seems now.

I think I looked at high school graduation and subsequent graduations as endings. When I thought about them, I mainly thought “When I finish….” Apparently I thought in terms of getting it done and getting it over with. There was some value to such thinking. I had friends who stretched four years of college into six and four years of PhD work into ten. I didn’t see the value in that.

Graduation wasn’t about only getting it over with, though. As I worked toward my graduation days, I also thought in terms of getting on with it, as in getting on with life. There were things I wanted to do beyond graduation. There was a life I wanted to live.

I’m not sure how well I kept the big picture in view. I think I’d have been better and done better had I thought more holistically.

What I mean is that I’d have taken a healthier approach to life had I embraced every step along the way with more gratitude and enthusiasm. Looking back, I realize how valuable most of my experiences and relationships, both in school and in other areas, were. They would have been even more valuable had I immersed myself in them more fully.

Now I’m able to look back and say, “Thank you, Lord.” I’m able to recognize the good gifts that God has given me in the past. I’m able to see how God has brought me to this point. I think that’s good.

But it’s important, even as I occasionally glance backwards, that I keep my eyes focused on what’s ahead. There’s more to come. God isn’t finished with me yet.

Paul talks about all that God has done for the Corinthians. God has given them many good gifts. In fact, Paul says, the Corinthian Christians “are not lacking in any spiritual gift” (v. 7). God has blessed them in the past, and those blessings have continued to the present.

Paul then says, “[God] will also strengthen you to the end…” (v. 8a). There is more to come. God isn’t finished with them yet. And they can count on God to give them what they need and to keep them growing in faith until Jesus returns.

Paul was writing to the Corinthians in the present. He was reminding them of what God had done for them in the past and of what God would do for them in the future in order to encourage them to live faithfully in their here and now. He wanted them to take their entire lives and their total experience into account. He wanted them to live holistically.

We can and should live holistic Christian lives too. We can live in light of the facts that God has been, will be, and is faithful.

Discussion

  • Imagine Paul applying the terms he uses to describe the Corinthian church (v. 2) to your church. How would they inspire you? How would they challenge you?
  • How has God enriched you spiritually? How has God enriched your church spiritually? How are you putting your blessings and gifts to good use?
  • What should we be doing as we “wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ” (v. 7)?
  • Paul says to the Corinthians, “[God] will…strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” (v. 8). God will do this for us too. How can we participate in what God is doing? How can we put ourselves in a position to keep growing toward full maturity in Christ?

Michael Ruffin is husband to Debra, father to Joshua (Michelle) and Sara (Benjamin), grandfather to Sullivan and Isabella. A graduate of Mercer University and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, he has previously served as a pastor and as a university professor. He lives on the Ruffin Family Farm in Yatesville, Georgia. He is the Connections Series Curriculum Editor.

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