1Corinthians 1:26 Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, 29 so that no one might boast in the presence of God. 30 He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 in order that, as it is written, "Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord."
Paul writes this letter to a church he initiated in Corinth, the capital city of the Roman province of Achaia. This city had originally been Greek, but was destroyed by Roman soldiers in 146BC. Julius Caesar then re-populated it with a variety of people from all over the world. This was a city port made up of ex-soldiers, slaves, merchants, sailors, prostitutes and fortune seekers. Paul points out the obvious when he notes that “not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.”
What is emerging however, is a community where people were beginning to compete for status. All too often people who have little social status attempt to remedy this by making others feel inferior. People of one cultural group claim superiority over other cultures. Strong personalities seek to overpower those who are weaker; Paul writes to the Christ-followers in Corinth to urge them to abandon their desire for superiority and to remember that the only status of value is that of a follower of Jesus.
Sadly this is also often true of Christian communities today. Let us re-read the words of Paul for our own time – and be reminded that our status, our life, our wisdom, and our goodness are rooted in Jesus. If we are to claim status about anything, the only thing we cling to is that we know Jesus.
Prayer: Lord God of All Creation: thank you for my life. May I always remember that all I have comes from you, so that I might not be distracted by my own self-importance. Amen
Third Sunday after Epiphany
9. “The Call to Ministry”
The Scripture passage for the day is drawn from Reuben Job and Norman Shawchuck, A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants, (Nashville, The Upper Room 1983), 65.
This reflection is from my own devotional exercises for the day.