The time has come for the Corinthians to grow up. This early
church had received the gospel from Paul when he spent
more than a year and a half teaching them about life in Christ
(Acts 18:11). While there, Paul says in today’s reading, “I fed you
with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for solid food.”
Now, though the church is older, its members still eat
applesauce and mushed-up bananas, metaphorically speaking.
They continue to live in childish ways, obsessing over the same
things that divided them before they became the body of Christ.
They quarrel over which human leader they will follow—Paul
or Apollos, another teacher who has come among them.
Paul asks, Why are you still stuck on this kids’ stuff? Life
doesn’t grow out of such division. Life as God intends comes
from a collaborative effort—Paul planting, Apollos watering,
God giving the growth. Saying yes to new life in Christ involves
living in a cooperative community, a community undivided
by petty allegiances. Paul models this maturity through his
respect of Apollos as a fellow worker whose good desires for
the community are the same as his own, even if they manifest
Even today churches split over seemingly small issues,
from allegiances to human leaders to the color of the carpet or
the presence of video screens in the sanctuary. We divide as a
wider society over political viewpoints, nationalistic commitments,
socioeconomic differences, and power struggles. Grow
up! Paul says to us as well. Focus on the things that matter, that
are essential to life—the common purpose we share in growing
in God’s ways. Then we’ll truly thrive.
God, help me leave infants’ milk behind and drink deeply of the things that bring life. Amen.
How are Christians to understand and relate to the Jewish law? The text from Deuteronomy confronts Israel with a sharp choice: Follow the commandments of Yahweh or bow to the gods of the Canaanites. Choosing the law means choosing a way of life. Psalm 119 praises the Torah as God’s gift bestowed on Israel to be the authentic guide as to how life should be lived. Jesus becomes the authoritative interpreter of the Torah, the one who pushes beyond external behavior to a consistency between disposition and deed. Christians are invited by the text to be different and become what Paul describes as “spiritual people.”
• Read Deuteronomy 30:15-20. How do you go about choosing between the call of God and the call of the idols that surround you?
• Read Psalm 119:1-8. How has keeping God’s command- ments been a joyful experience in your life?
• Read 1 Corinthians 3:1-9. What do you consider to be the “milk” of the gospel versus the “solid food” of the gospel?
• Read Matthew 5:21-37. Which of the “But I say to you” teachings of Jesus surprise you the most? Why?
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