Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes,
To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be his holy people, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—their Lord and ours:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in him you have been enriched in every way—with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge—God thus confirming our testimony about Christ among you. Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (New International Version)
God has already provided for us everything we need to live the Christian life. We lack nothing in Jesus Christ; and possess the following five gifts….
Every year, after the 12 Days of Christmas, beginning on January 6 and going to Ash Wednesday, is the season of Epiphany. It is a celebration and recognition that Christ’s coming to this earth as a child is much more than a baby in a manger. Epiphany brings a vision and understanding of God’s glory to all kinds of people of the world.
Epiphany means “manifestation” or “appearance.” The focus of these weeks is that salvation is not limited to Israel but extends to the Gentiles, as well. In other words, the gospel is for everyone.
Epiphany illumines one of the most scandalous truths of Christianity: God gives the light of Christ to common ordinary people who seem far from God with the gift of Jesus. God grants repentance that leads to life for all kinds of people – no matter their race, ethnicity, class, gender, or background – even pagan astrologers like the Magi. It’s a glorious truth that God’s merciful concern is not limited to a certain type of person or a particular group of people.
This old broken world is wrapped in darkness. All kinds of people have no light at the end of the tunnel of their lives for hope and new life. The good news is that Christ brings light to those walking around with no ability to see. Jesus, in his teaching ministry in the Sermon on the Mount, exhorted his followers not to hide their light but to let it shine for all to see.
Oftentimes, the best way to bring resolution to our own troubles and problems is through helping others make sense of their lives through the gracious light of Christ so that they can see an appearance, an epiphany, of what their lives can be in the gracious rule of the kingdom of God.
The Church has struggled throughout its history to uphold this basic message of the gospel of grace for everyone. From the Council of Jerusalem in the book of Acts that met to decide whether one ought to become a Jew first in order to be a Christian; to the with-holding of membership to African Americans in many churches in the twentieth century; to ignoring the poor and least among us; we must be intentional and deliberate about reaching and ministering to all people.
The joy of salvation is that I do not need to jump through certain spiritual hoops to enter into Christianity, nor be a certain kind of person. The Church is not an exclusive club of people based in a particular spiritual pedigree or preferences. Through repentance and faith in Jesus, all may come to God.
Everyone has intrinsic worth as individuals created in the image of God; and therefore need the attention of Christians in bringing the gospel to them. It is easy to ignore people we do not understand and who are different from us; or to look down on those who do not agree with me on disputable matters. To intentionally reach and minister to a different class or generation or race requires much love and many resources. It requires grace.
Jesus had a big enough inner space to accommodate prostitutes, drunkards, tax collectors, and a whole variety of “sinners.” How big is your inner space? Is it big enough to allow people in your life who are not like you without you feeling threatened and insecure?
In Christ’s day, some feared being contaminated if having table fellowship with such people; religious leaders were afraid of losing their power over people if the status quo was changed in ministering to such low life’s; and others feared continued Roman domination if Jesus kept up spending his time in graciousness to all kinds of sinners. So, all the religious people killed him.
Because of Christ, we have wholeness and integrity; we have peace.
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1, NIV)
Peace is a gift. Yet, we must unpack the gift in order to enjoy it – which is why we get encouragements to seek peace and pursue it – not because we don’t have it, but because we need to use it.
Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For,
“Whoever would love life
and see good days
must keep their tongue from evil
and their lips from deceitful speech.
They must turn from evil and do good;
they must seek peace and pursue it.
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
and his ears are attentive to their prayer,
but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” (1 Peter 3:8-12, NIV)
God’s spiritual gifts of speaking and serving
We also need to unpack our spiritual gift(s). We have them. They’re there inside us. But we must let it out!
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 4:10-11, NIV)
God’s eternal security
God will keep us firm till the end.
We might jump from finger to finger, but we aren’t getting out of God’s hand! The Lord has us in his loving and gracious grip. God’s faithfulness is what makes all the difference.
Insecurity comes from us trying to be our own Security Officer. We simply don’t know everything, or why some people say or do what they say and do. A believer’s security comes solely from the Good Shepherd, Jesus, taking ownership of the flock and protecting it from harm.
You already have what you need for the Christian life. Jesus is the Light of the World. The good news is the gospel of grace and peace. The Holy Spirit is within us. And the Father has us in his good strong hand.
Our triune God has given us provision to live life to the full. We need to affirm what we have in Jesus Christ:
- No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough.
- I am worthy of love and belonging.
- I am brave and resilient.
- I am blessed on this earth to be a blessing to others.
- I am not my mistakes nor my successes, my illness nor my health, my idleness nor my work.
- I am loved by God.
These are all things we already true of us. We cannot try and obtain any of them because we presently now possess them by a merciful God.
May the strength of God sustain us.
May the power of God preserve us.
May the hands of God protect us.
May the way of God direct us.
May the love of God surround us.
Now and forever. Amen.