Corinthians – Belief and Behavior
No matter what is happening in your life, isn’t it wonderful and spirit lifting when someone comes up to you and gives you a holy hug and speaks words of encouragement to you? These holy embraces, whether at church or seeing someone you know at a store or other places outside of church give you a sense of belonging and significance.
We all need to know that someone else genuinely loves us and is glad to see us. It makes us feel like we belong. As former teachers, kids don’t hold back when they see us in stores and even yell out our names. Other kids are too shy to yell but still point to us and tell their parents we are in the vicinity. It shows they care. And they will always be “our kids” because they belonged in our class for a while.
How do we show we care as believers when we see others inside or outside God’s church? Do we yell and hug or hide and avoid contact? We are becoming, more and more, isolated islands of people as we leave the church doors. There seems to be less and less face to face contact because of social media. Social media is great to catch up with old friends and family far away but if they live in town, wouldn’t it be nice to take time to visit them and they you? Is it rejection that we are afraid of? Maybe they are, too. Mm.
Social interaction seems to very important to Paul and includes what to do, who to see and how to interact with “holy embraces” with arms of love open wide to receive others. We seem more and more to be a closed arms people. Maybe others have hurt you in the past and you don’t trust them as you once did. I know that feeling well. We have all experienced betrayal. But maybe it’s time to open up our Spiritual arms of love again and give someone a holy embrace. They might be hurting, too, and your hug just might be life saving. “At just the right time”, led by the Spirit, pay a visit, notice others you know, and offer holy embraces to each other that is pure, not expecting anything back.
“Pass the greetings around with holy embraces!”
“Make room for the Master! Our Master Jesus has his arms wide open for you. And I love all of you in the Messiah, in Jesus.”
1 Corinthians 16, The Message
Coming to See You
1-4 Regarding the relief offering for poor Christians that is being collected, you get the same instructions I gave the churches in Galatia. Every Sunday each of you make an offering and put it in safekeeping. Be as generous as you can. When I get there you’ll have it ready, and I won’t have to make a special appeal. Then after I arrive, I’ll write letters authorizing whomever you delegate, and send them off to Jerusalem to deliver your gift. If you think it best that I go along, I’ll be glad to travel with them.
5-9 I plan to visit you after passing through northern Greece. I won’t be staying long there, but maybe I can stay awhile with you—maybe even spend the winter? Then you could give me a good send-off, wherever I may be headed next. I don’t want to just drop by in between other “primary” destinations. I want a good, long, leisurely visit. If the Master agrees, we’ll have it! For the present, I’m staying right here in Ephesus. A huge door of opportunity for good work has opened up here. (There is also mushrooming opposition.)
10-11 If Timothy shows up, take good care of him. Make him feel completely at home among you. He works so hard for the Master, just as I do. Don’t let anyone disparage him. After a while, send him on to me with your blessing. Tell him I’m expecting him, and any friends he has with him.
12 About our friend Apollos, I’ve done my best to get him to pay you a visit, but haven’t talked him into it yet. He doesn’t think this is the right time. But there will be a “right time.”
13-14 Keep your eyes open, hold tight to your convictions, give it all you’ve got, be resolute, and love without stopping.
15-16 Would you do me a favor, friends, and give special recognition to the family of Stephanas? You know, they were among the first converts in Greece, and they’ve put themselves out, serving Christians ever since then. I want you to honor and look up to people like that: companions and workers who show us how to do it, giving us something to aspire to.
17-18 I want you to know how delighted I am to have Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus here with me. They partially make up for your absence! They’ve refreshed me by keeping me in touch with you. Be proud that you have people like this among you.
19 The churches here in western Asia send greetings.
Aquila, Priscilla, and the church that meets in their house say hello.
20 All the friends here say hello.
Pass the greetings around with holy embraces!
21 And I, Paul—in my own handwriting!—send you my regards.
22 If anyone won’t love the Master, throw him out. Make room for the Master!
23 Our Master Jesus has his arms wide open for you.
24 And I love all of you in the Messiah, in Jesus.
KEY verse to live by…
“Keep your eyes open, hold tight to your convictions, give it all you’ve got, be resolute, and love without stopping.”
Dear Heavenly Father,
You love it when we love on each other. This is evidence. Thank you for opening your arms of love to us. Guide our thoughts and actions with opportunities to hug more and avoid less. Transform me. Transform Your church. Transform the world.
In Jesus Name, Amen