Paul was encouraging the Saints in Corinth by his personal prayers. Depending on your translation, you may have the Word, which that carries the meaning of prayer. What did Paul pray for? Safety and security from religious and political persecutions, quality of life with massive wealth, promotion in career and success in business? Interestingly enough, Paul prayed for their perfection. It does not mean absolute sinless perfection but spiritual maturity, which means to be fitted out, to be equipped. As a medical term, it means to set a broken bone to adjust a twisted limb. It is also translated, mending a broken net for fishing – Matthew chapter 4 and verse 21. Christians should be fitted for a long and possibly lonely journey in the world. They should be prepared and equipped for battle in the storms of life. One of the ministries of our risen Lord is that of perfecting his people.
Hebrews 13 and 20 and 21 says now the God of peace who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord. It keeps you in every good thing to do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
Our Shepherd, our saviour Christ Jesus wants to discipline us for life on earth and prepare us for the gospel ministry. He wants to set the broken bones in our lives so that we might walk straight in the run our life races faithfully. He wants to repair the breaks in the net so that we might win souls.
Jesus said to Simon Peter and his brother Andrew in Matthew 4:19 – follow me and I will make you Fishers of men. Christ wants us to be Fishers of men so that we should be able to lead people to him. He also wants to make us strong so that we are able to carry out the task God has for us. Arise, for it is your task and we are with you. Be strong and do it!
Ezra, chapter 10:4. He wants to mature us so that we can be his ambassadors. He will transform us to be faithful and obedient to God and his commandments. He wants his people to please God with their hearts and actions. It is also necessary for us to know how he prepares his people. The best tool he will use is the Word of God.
2nd Timothy 3:16-17 says, all scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped, for every good work. The Bible is the most perfect means to train God’s people for life and service in the fellowship of the local church. He will use prayer as a tool to perfect his people. He commands individual believers to restore each other by prayer of encouragement in the church.
Brethren, even a man is caught in any trespass. You, who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness. Galatians 6:1 says, in reality, balance the Christian growth and ministry – is impossible in isolation. Christians belong to each other and need each other. It is also God’s plan that he will make us mature enough to perfect his church.
In the New Testament, the Church is a community. As if it is a body constituted by many parts, a temporal comprised of living stones. A household composed of diverse members. The church can mean a local church, a Christian fellowship group on a military base or in a local community.
Jesus is our Shepherd and we are his sheep. We therefore must flock together in following him. We are members of the same body and we must minister to one another so that we can be a maturing and perfecting community of faith. As a whole, Paul’s second encouragement is his prayer of petition. It is a Pastor’s prayer for a troubled community. Paul prays not for their physical welfare but for their spiritual wellbeing in verse 10.
Paul hopes to lead the unrepentant to Christ. He offers warnings and therefore opportunities for change. He knew that the Lord Christ Jesus gave the Apostolic authority for the purpose of building his people up. It is not Paul’s intention to destroy the church but tear down the unbiblical thinking and the false understandings that some church members have kept and cherish it in their heart and mind.
Clearly, is it Paul’s great desire to teach them the word of God in order to perfect them up and restore them to what they are meant to be. However, Paul believes that it is not him but Christ, who is the only one, can demolish the walls of disbelief, denial and rejection of the good news for Salvation. Indeed, Christ Jesus is the Lord, who will transform the old Saints, who held out wrong ideas against the truth for a long time.
In order to love, edify and lead others to Christ Jesus, we should try this. Finally brethren, rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like minded, live in peace in verse 11. When Christians rejoice together, they will enjoy the ministry of restoration. Aim for perfection. It does not mean be perfect. We can never be perfect in our actions here on earth. It actually means be converted, or be restored as a consequence of suffering and hardship. We need to be comforted as a community. We should care and encourage each other to work for unity. I appeal to you brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Christ Jesus, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you. Be perfectly united in mind and thought, says Paul, in 1 Corinthians 1:10. Paul urges us to be united, to aim for the goal and that is to please the Lord God Almighty and honour him.
Ultimately in everything we say in everything we do we need to aim to please our Saviour Christ Jesus. Secondly, Paul blesses them with love and peace in verse 11 to verse 12. There are divisions and dissensions in the Corinthian Church according to chapter 12 in verse 20. Paul encourages them to live in peace. If they practise love and pursue, to be of one mind, the fight will cease and they will enjoy peace in their fellowship. To be of one mind does not mean that we all agree on everything but that we agree to disagree over matters that are not essential. Good news is that we can enjoy loving and peaceful Christian fellowship if it is being built upon the grace of God. In our fellowship we should give each other God’s love, which is his greatest gift.
Listen to 1 John chapter 4 verse 8. Whoever does not love does not know God because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us. He sent his one and only son into the world that we might live through him. This is love not that we love God but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. It is God’s command to love one another and we will obey it for sure. Genuine love cannot be demonstrated in any community unless it reflects God’s love. Unless it is empowered by an experience of being loved by God. Therefore, whoever does not love cannot possibly know God who is love. God’s love is not conditional. It is not dependent on the worthiness of the object of his love. We can never earn or deserve his love. God’s love does not depend on any worth in us. He loves us unconditionally because that is his very nature.
His defined character is love. Therefore, he loves us when we are even not lovable. In his love, God sent his son Jesus into the world that we might live through him. The only way we can receive God’s love is to be a part of his family. We will become his children by accepting Christ Jesus as our Lord and Saviour and Messiah.
God will only adopt us because of the death of our Saviour Christ Jesus who has paid fully and sufficiently for the penalty of our sins. Subsequently God’s love is the only remedy that will mend our ways and hear our heart. Because of God’s love to us we will also love our fellow Christians and even those who hurt us. Because of God’s love, we can rejoice and live in peace, together with all the Saints of God in verse 13. Let us aim for perfection in Christ. Let us encourage each other and comfort one another so that we will become imitators of Christ Jesus. There will then be love, peace and communion in the Church, the community of faith in Christ Jesus. Amen.