For Your Consideration
“Brothers and sisters, do not be children in your thinking; rather, be infants in evil, but in thinking be adults.” – 1 Corinthians 14:20
Cities have personalities. Corinth was cutting edge. Historians talk about ancient Corinth as a cosmopolitan, booming city. A relatively young metropolis, Corinth was precocious and eager to prove itself in the Roman Empire. It’s easy to imagine that the Corinthians in the early church there reflected some of the values and culture of the city.
Often, the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church feels like he is pumping the breaks, cautioning the early church about getting ahead of itself. They’ve embraced grace, they’re gifted by the Holy Spirit, and they’re clever but all of these blessings seem to be a bit muddled in their application. Time and again Paul says to them, wait, look around you, Christianity is about all of us together.
Time and again, Paul has to remind them that their gifts, their graces, their ability to grasp new ideas has a purpose. These gifts from God are not meant to become the means by which we exalt ourselves over others. They are meant to be ways that we apply love.
In chapter 14 Paul admonishes them for using their gift of prayer in such a way that excludes others. Their “private prayer language” seems to only serve themselves and cuts out those among them who are in need of a blessing. Paul’s frustration bubbles over as he calls on them to mature in their thinking. The Message paraphrase puts it this way:
“I’m getting exasperated with your infantile thinking. How long before you grow up and use your head”
For Paul, mature thinking is revealed in our ability to think about others; to be clever means to be considerate. Together we are the body of Christ. Together we testify to the grace of God. Together we make this journey of faith.
May we use our intellect not simply to enrich ourselves but also to bless our neighbors near and far.