July 23 | Bible in a Year: Psalms 33–34; Acts 24
We were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body.
1 Corinthians 12:13
READ 1 Corinthians 12:12–20
When BBC Music Magazine asked one hundred fifty-one of the world’s leading conductors to list twenty of what they believed to be the greatest symphonies ever written, Beethoven’s Third, Eroica, came out on top. The work, whose title means “heroic,” was written during the turmoil of the French Revolution. But it also came out of Beethoven’s own struggle as he slowly lost his hearing. The music evokes extreme swings of emotion that express what it means to be human and alive while facing challenges. Through wild swings of happiness, sadness, and eventual triumph Beethoven’s Third Symphony is regarded as a timeless tribute to the human spirit.
Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians deserves our attention for similar reasons. Through inspired words rather than musical scores, it rises in blessing (1:4–9), falls in the sadness of soul-crushing conflict (11:17–22), and rises again in the unison of gifted people working together for one another and for the glory of God (12:6–7).
The difference is that here we see the triumph of our human spirit as a tribute to the Spirit of God. As Paul urges us to experience together the inexpressible love of Christ, he helps us see ourselves as called together by our Father, led by His Son, and inspired by His Spirit—not for noise, but for our contribution to the greatest symphony of all.
By Mart DeHaan
REFLECT & PRAY
Where do you hear the dissonance of conflict in your own life? Where do you see the symphonic harmonies of love?
Father, please enable me to see what I can be with others, with my eyes on Your Son, with reliance on Your Spirit, with a growing awareness of what You can do with a noisemaker like me.
The Greek word ekklēsia, translated “church,” means “an assembly,” a “called-out people” gathered together. The word is used to describe “a people of God” (1 Peter 2:9–10). Paul used many different metaphors to describe the church, including God’s family (Ephesians 2:19; 3:15; 1 Timothy 3:15), God’s flock (Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:2), and the bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:22–32). But “the body of Christ” is Paul’s favorite (Romans 12:4–5; 1 Corinthians 6:15; 10:17; Ephesians 1:22–23; 4:4, 12; 5:23, 30; Colossians 1:18, 24).
The church at Corinth was a divided congregation. Some believers elevated certain ecstatic gifts (for example, speaking in unknown tongues) above others, believing that unless one possessed these, one wasn’t part of the church. Paul refuted this error in 1 Corinthians 12–14. He used the body metaphor to promote unity and harmony. The church, like the human body, is diverse, but all parts must function as one.
K. T. Sim