1 Corinthians 3:16-23
16 Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple? Don’t you know that God’s Spirit lives among you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person. God’s temple is holy. And you all together are that temple. 18 Don’t fool yourselves. Suppose some of you think you are wise by the standards of the world. Then you should become “fools” so that you can become wise. 19 The wisdom of this world is foolish in God’s eyes. It is written, “God catches wise people in their own evil plans.” (Job 5:13) 20 It is also written, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of wise people don’t amount to anything.” (Psalm 94:11) 21 So no more bragging about human leaders! All things are yours. 22 That means Paul or Apollos or Peter or the world or life or death or the present or the future. All are yours. 23 You are joined to Christ and belong to him. And Christ is joined to God.
Paul is concerned about divisions in the Corinthian church – 1:11-12. Corinth was an important Greek city, where the culture placed a great deal of importance on philosophy, teaching and wisdom. Following this tradition the believers were aligning themselves to particular teachers of the gospel, which was fracturing the immature church. Paul is on the alert for worldly wisdom seeping into this new church, and reminds the believers that the gospel is foolishness to the world (see 1:18-25).
Paul is intent on protecting the church. He likens us to God’s temple (“you yourselves are God’s temple” v 16). Traditionally the temple was the dwelling place of God with his people (1 Kings 8:10), and was the focus of religious life. Paul says now we are God’s temple, and God is dwelling in us by His Spirit, which unifies us. No wonder Paul says “No one will get by with vandalising God’s temple, you can be sure of that” (The Message version).
What should be our response? The word God has given me is cherish. We are to love the church, cherish our unity. To me this looks like speaking against factions, upholding and honouring our leaders, serving others and being accountable in all parts of my life to the church. Selfish acts of the individual can bring the whole church into disrepute. We cherish our church when we keep Christ at the centre, lifting him up, worshipping him alone.
Heavenly Father, thank you for your Holy Spirit living in us. Grow godly wisdom in me, Father. I worship you. Protect your church from destruction and mediocrity, and work powerfully in us to be your witnesses. Amen.
Written by Claire Moore