To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours (1 Cor. 1:2close1 Corinthians 1:2 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: (ESV) close1 Corinthians 1:2close1 Corinthians 1:2 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: (ESV) 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: (ESV) ; NASB)
Do you ever find it hard to see people the way God sees them? Do you ever look at your fellow church member and think to yourself, “I don’t know how they do it?” If so you are not alone. I believe there are many stages throughout our Christian life where we struggle with seeing people as God sees them. Instead, we focus on how we envision them. The main difference is that God is eternal. God views things from an eternal perspective. He sees a person’s past and the present. God, unlike humans, can also see the future. God can see the finished product. This is the essence of what Paul proclaimed in his letter to the Corinthians.
The Corinthian church was well known for its problems. Corinthians is often used as a sort of case study for problematic churches. The church was known for its division, hyper exaltation of leaders, refusal to discipline sinning members, misuse of spiritual gifts, knowledge, and failure to love. Members were confused about how they should handle civil matters with one another, and they did not have a proper understanding of the Lord’s Supper. Reading through Corinthians can make one wonder how the church got anything accomplished, or how it was even able to survive. More importantly, was it even possible for the church to bring any honor to the name of Christ with all of its maladies?
The intro in chapter 1 gives us a good picture of how to handle such situations. There is no doubt that Paul struggled with the fact that there was so much misguided living and malfunction within the body. His address to the church begins with “to the church of God.” When we struggle with those whom we worship with, when they do not function the way a member is supposed to function, or when their level of holiness does not match the standard of the Scriptures, we should first remind ourselves that it is “the church of God.” God owns the church. The people whom he owns he has bought with a costly price. Remember, Paul knew the plagues of the Corinthians, yet he addressed them as God’s people.
Paul also referred to them as “saints,” and as ones who had been “sanctified in Christ Jesus.” In addressing the church, Paul identified them from a positional standing with God, not as how he viewed them. Though their condition was not ideal for a healthy church, Paul reminded them of who they were. Even when others do not appear to be holy, if they are true believers, remind yourself that they are sanctified and set apart in Christ. Know that God is not through with them. Remember, God sees the finished product. In Christ they are holy, even though they do not appear as such at times.
It is not easy to overlook the negative qualities that are so often visible in others when we gather to worship. If someone is caught in a specific sin, there is a prescription for that. But if your frustration is from someone’s lack of spiritual maturity, then be patient. Wait on God. While you are waiting on God to work, remember that he owns the church. God in Christ has made his people holy. And although we all are being sanctified, in Christ we have already been made holy. See others as God sees them. Meditate on Paul’s words to the Corinthians. Rejoice in the good things that you see in others. Then you can say as Paul did in the next verse, “Grace to you.”