In western Scotland, and the Western Isles are a number of communities with the name Tarbert, meaning a place where the land is so narrow that it is possible to drag a boat from one piece of water to another. SO IN CORINTH, this Roman settlement built on an earlier Greek city was set on a four mile wide isthmus over which smaller boats could be dragged on rollers. Because of this narrow neck of land, Corinth became a port for trade from north south east and west. Like all sea ports there was money to be made, but also the seamier side of life to be indulged. Add to this the fact that although Corinth was never noted for its learning and culture, the residents of the city took an interest in these matters and liked to think of themselves as learned and cultured. So riches and poverty, power and powerlessness , sexual liberality, cultural snobbery, all combined to make a toxic mix which caused problems in the church. and utterly divided It. It is these problems which Paul was forced to address in his first letter to the church at Corinth.
What is our record as Christians in the light of fabulous wealth and grinding poverty within our community,our country and the world? (Ch.11)
How far is our church united in its views on sexuality? (Chs 6-7) Is unanimity a good thing, or does it indicate an absence of creative plurality within the fellowship?
How much ego is there in the use of the gifts we have in church? (Ch 12).
How often are the gifts of the Spirit in evidence in our congregations? (Chs 12 & 14)
1 Corinthians 1:1-9
Paul begins his letter with some of the usual pleasantries. He is anxious to address the problems of the church. First however he looks 'upwards' to God in Christ. This church, (with all its faults) is sanctified in Christ, called to be saints, and a cause of thanksgiving to their apostle (v4) Despite human frailty God remains faithful ( (v8 & 9)
It can be helpful in the face of problems and disappointments to look away from them, and up to God.