I started a study on 1 Corinthians a while back and let me tell you, for such a time as this. As I’ve read about the culture of Corinth in Paul’s day, I see so many similarities to our modern-day culture – highlighted even more because of the current reality in our world. The city of Corinth had many travelers and businesses because of the location on the water route through the country of Greece. The people were proud of their city and you could find anything your heart desired because the Corinthian culture was full of indulgence, idolatry, and immoral living. It was a culture that thrived on self-importance, ambition, and status. Sound at all familiar?
In the book of Acts, we read Paul spent eighteen months in Corinth, “teaching them the word of God.” (18:11) I imagine Paul spent countless hours sharing the Gospel and gently correcting their habits and patterns of life in contrast to the Good News. A few years after Paul’s departure from Corinth, he receives word the Christian Corinthians have fallen into their old destructive habits in his absence. Instead of a good old fashioned written lecture, Paul simply affirms their identity in Christ and reminds them of God’s truth. Once again we see Paul’s gentle teaching and correcting as we read the words penned in his correspondence we have come to know as the book of 1 Corinthians.
As I think of the things God has been teaching me during this pandemic season, I can’t help but think of the things I have been learning in my studies as well. Paul spent a lot of time teaching the Christian Corinthians about the Messiah and living as part of God’s kingdom. But, after Paul departed on his next journey, the people quickly turned to their old habits. As we slowly begin to turn the corner of our social distancing, sheltering in place, and homemade mask-wearing, I wonder how quickly I may fall back into my old and regular patterns of life pre-Covid. Will I begin to fill my schedule with the things I didn’t miss or that lack real value for my life? When classes resume, will my children’s schoolwork turn into more of the teacher’s responsibility, rather than my own? This slower pace of life has allowed for an extended quiet time at my Saviors’ feet each day; will I continue to crave the time spent with Him or will extra time fade into what once was, as well?
See, deep down there is a part of me that hopes we never fully return to “normal”. No, I don’t mean keep things locked up tight downtown; those are my friends and it is good for us all to work and make a living. I am just as excited as everyone else to see friends and the smiles of our church family, but I am going to miss some of this season as well. I feel as though I am entering this new season of familiarity with a much different concern than when we entered the unknown – shelter in place way of life. During this time, God has shown me ways to minister in a fashion I never imagined and many blessings in the slower pace. I have found a deeper passion for worship, a greater desire for less, and patience I didn’t know I had just six short weeks ago. I don’t want to fall into the old habits and patterns of life before Covid like the Corinthians did as they waved goodbye to Paul.
We would likely all agree the lasting effects of this time will continue to be felt for many months to come. For some, this season has or will bring great heartache and loss. Perhaps it’s a time of life we wish we could simply erase. Yet I also believe God never leaves a season without revealing Himself to His people. In this time, may it be true of each of us that we lean into our Father fully trusting Him and all He has for us – both the good and painful – each and every day.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. [While maintaining a distance of 6 feet.] All God’s people here send their greetings. May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” 2 Corinthians 11-14
Missing each of you, Becky Ossefoort