Have you ever known someone who had a divisive personality, and was always switching loyalties back and forth? What if that same person was sexually immoral, and proud of it? Further, what if that person was always taking their family members to court, their marriage was on the rocks, and they were always talking about exercising "their rights," while trampling on the rights of others? What if you couldn't even sit down and share a meal with that person without feeling degraded by the way they treated you? What if all their ideas about love were so twisted that you wondered if they really knew what love really was? What if they were complete show-offs, always out for their own glory? How would you treat them? If you could write them a letter, how would you address them?
If you haven't guessed, I'm not really talking about a person. I'm talking about the church of Corinth, which had all the characteristics I've just described. It was a seriously messed-up church, with some horrible problems. The amazing thing is that when Paul addressed them in his first letter, he didn't begin the letter by calling them self-centered, egoticstical, subversive perverts. When Paul began his letter to them, he said:
2 To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus,called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:
3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
4 I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, 5 that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— 6 even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you— 7 so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Now, you might say that Paul was lying when he said these things. I'd say that he was speaking his faith, rather than speaking the disappointment he must have felt because of the way they lived. Paul isn't seeing them for all their sin and corruption--he's seeing them through the eyes of Jesus, who forgave them for their sin and planned something much better for them.
In today's brief blog post, I want to ask you--do you know anybody like the hypothetical person I described above? They can't be as bad as the church of Corinth was! Instead of speaking with your feelings, how about speaking to them with fiath? How about treating them as the saints of God that they aren't yet? Treat them, not as they are, but as they will be. That may make all the difference in whether your relationship falls apart, or whether it survives and thrives. Treat them as God sees them, not as you see them...then wait and see what God can do with them.