High-Beam Headlights

Have you ever been driving at night and found your eyes momentarily blinded by the piercing stream of light from the high-beam headlights of an oncoming vehicle? Many of you have. What’s your first reaction? Do you give a quick courtesy flash of your lights back to the driver coming your way in hopes that they dim their lights and pass you by? Or, do you return fire with fire and burn your halogen bulbs at full candlepower until the other person gives in and relents to your stunning retaliation?

The apostle Paul has received word about a “high-beam” situation infiltrating the church in Corinth. Various groups within the church were beginning to “flash their lights at each other” over who they were following along with reports of sexual immortality, lawsuits and other troubling activities. Paul deals with the first issue of divisiveness before the others in chapters 1:20-4:21. He describes the problem in 1:12, “What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another “I follow Cephas”, still another, “I follow Christ.” 

The opening of Paul’s letter “To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be his holy people” was a call to unity where disarray was brewing. “I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you.” What was Paul’s plan? How in the midst of disagreement can the church come together in love for one another? 

Paul outlines four methods for us to “dim the lights” and foster an attitude and environment where unity can flourish. 

First and foremost, Paul instructs the people to focus on the cross of Christ. (1:18-2:5) Simply put, the Corinthians have lost sight of the cross, their “high-beam” focus on other leaders for power and authority has to be refocused, the need to return to the truth of the gospel message. It is not about them but all about Christ. 

Second, He speaks to the truth of spiritual wisdom. (2:6-16) Without the leading and guiding of the Spirit in all matters of faith in life as believers we will fail in our own weaknesses. He reminds us of God’s wisdom as revealed by the Spirit. “The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.” (2:10b)

Third, he speaks to the true equality of all believers. (3:1-23) Paul uses two metaphors, one of farmers in a field and another of construction workers building together. He stresses in verse 9 that we are “co-workers” (working together) in God’s service. 

Lastly, Paul speaks to the true nature of leadership. (4:1-21) Called by God, the leaders are his faithful servants; “This then is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ and those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed.” (4:1) In short, Paul highlights the truth that Christ is to be exalted over his chosen leaders (servants), while at the same time given the respect they deserve because of their calling. 

Having been momentarily “blinded” by the powerful lights of an oncoming car I will admit I’ve responded to the situation with both a quick courtesy flash and more aggressive retaliation. For all of us, whether sitting in the driver’s seat or walking through other events in life, Paul’s timeless reminder to “dim the lights” and focus on the cross and listen to the leading and guiding of the Spirit will do us well.  

“The Chronicler”

bored-to-death-454246687Some might say “It’s like watching paint dry” or “I’d rather listen to the sound of fingernails on a chalkboard.” I have to admit that I fall into the category of “some” who would use one of these rather creative statements to describe my feelings about a long drawn out history lesson. A chronicle is a historical account of facts and events ranged in chronological order, as in a time line. I have to ask this question, do you skip over the often lengthy lists of names (genealogies) in the Bible. I typically do.

The author, or chronicler of first and second Chronicles in the bible had the long tedious job of assembling the historical records from Adam to Abraham. The Chronicler in this context summarizes the genealogy of the nations (1 Chron 1:1–54), outlining Israel’s ancestry all the way back to creation and highlighting God’s special purpose for Israel in the world. This long list of names and places retell a story akin to that of an extreme roller coaster, a history of a people who experienced both the incredible power of a jealous, angry and just God and then who in the same breath is a God who is full of love, grace, mercy and goodness. The ultimate purpose of these words written in Chronicles was to remind the present and future generations that they were from the royal line of David and that they were God’s chosen people.

Some people say, “you don’t know where your going till you know where you have been.” My journey into full time vocational ministry has made me take a step back and look at how God has been shaping me over the past 40 plus years. My history, the events and experiences of my life and the lives of those in my families heritage have played a major role in shaping who I am today. The chronicler works to list names, dates and relations, it is our job to complete the picture. What is it in your life that shaped you into the person you are today? When was the last time you stepped back in time to experience the history of those who came before you? God’s word included these incredibly hard to read passages so that we can be reminded of the incredible things he has done for us.