Paul is recommending the Corinthians look for encouragement from other brothers and sisters of the faith. It’s like networking and fellowship combined. The movement of Christ-followers is growing. Without the internet and more modern ways of connecting, word of mouth was key in connecting people who should spend time together.
The Corinthians had the assurance that they weren’t alone. Sometimes it can be frightening to head in a new direction in life. To embrace a Christian life and start a new relationship with a Savior who was not visibly present was daunting for them, and it can be daunting for us as well. That’s why Paul models for us the importance of community, faith communities to be precise.
Paul has dealt with a lot of big issues facing the young church in Corinth. The last one before he closes this letter deals with their giving. It was important then, and it is important now. I always appreciate when I am part of a congregation that is mission focused. Living as a missionary here in Mexico has given me a whole new perspective.
Paul’s wisdom on collecting for missions is based on consistency. First, he uses a model that is consistent with another church. When you find a process that works, it’s easy for others to rely on and model after it. Paul is also urging them to set aside their offerings consistently. “Don’t wait until I get there and then try to collect it all at once.” When we put a little away each week, it is much easier to be generous.
Wasn’t the tone of Paul’s close to Chapter 15 simply invigorating? Even though Paul did a brilliant job explaining the promise of resurrection, it’s still something no one has done, except Jesus. He has led the way and we simply wait our turn. We wait for our glorious transformation.
Whether we have already died or are still alive when Jesus returns, we will still rise with Jesus and receive the full transformation. As Paul said, “let me reveal to you a wonderful secret.” Who doesn’t like to be in on a great secret? I can remember how hard it was to keep the secret I had arranged for a surprise 50th birthday party for my husband David. It was quite the elaborate event with lots of moving parts to make it work. Nothing near the incredible, miraculous secret Paul talked about for those who will skip past death.
Have you ever thought about what your resurrection body will look like? I have, but I can’t even begin to imagine. I like how Paul describes it. The example of a seed planted in the ground is a genius analogy. But what really got me was “Then God gives it the new body he wants it to have.” God’s creation is so amazing to witness a simple seed turning into a magnificent flowering bush. Exactly what God intended!
I think my resurrection body is going to be like that. It’s going to look exactly how God wants me to look. And my new body won’t have aches and pains or ever grow old and die. I remember thinking about this text when my mom died years ago. Her earthly body had been ravaged by the lingering effects of having polio as a child and then by cancer before she died. I knew she was in for a treat when she received her resurrection body! We all have that to look forward to.
Do you ever find yourself in the “What-If Trap”? That’s when you catch yourself in some sort of doubt or worry. What if it rains when you forgot your umbrella? What if I fail my math test, will I be able to graduate? What if there is no resurrection? That’s what it seems Paul is addressing here.
Paul gives us real life examples that wouldn’t make sense in a “resurrection-less” world. These examples would have been understood better by the original recipients to the message. For us, it could be something like, “if there was no resurrection of the dead, why would we be wasting our time spreading the gospel?” If you’re wondering about verse 29, apparently there was a practice that people who were alive could be baptized in place of people who already died to give the dead people the same promise of baptism. While it happened, and Paul calls it out, note that it isn’t necessarily a practice believed to be “necessary.”