MDB 31: I Cor 1-2

At the start of this letter to a church torn apart by divisions and sexual immorality, it is striking that Paul begins by giving thanks for the grace of God shown in the salvation of those in the congregation at Corinth. This is hardly surprising: Corinth, as a port city, was, to use the old fashioned terminology, a den of iniquity and vice.  No doubt the people to whom Paul was writing included the ancient equivalent of prostitutes, pimps, strippers, and the very dregs of society. Yet Paul gives thanks for them; and, more than that, sees these very people as a public demonstration of God's wisdom: he is building his kingdom using the most unpromising material he can find because, by so doing, it will be clear that it is built by his power, not by human technique.

There is a lesson for the church today: it is often said that, if the church is doing her job properly, she should reflect the demographic make-up of the neighbourhood in which she is found. There is truth in that; but there also seems to be an expectation in Paul's mind that the church will actually represent a weaker demographic than might typically be the case, in that God seems to have a bias to the weak and the poor; not, of course, because weakness and poverty are somehow intrinsically meritorious or virtuous; but because building a church through such people ensures that the glory goes to God. Christ crucified was, humanly speaking, the least likely way in which God might defeat the powers of evil and inaugurate his kingdom, but that was his chosen way so to do. We as a church should reflect on how they should shape our own attitude to God and to his church.