Those who are unspiritual[e] do not receive the gifts of God’s Spirit, for they are foolishness to them, and they are unable to understand them because they are discerned spiritually. Those who are spiritual discern all things, and they are themselves subject to no one else’s scrutiny. ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?’ But we have the mind of Christ.
Nicky Gumble shares the story of a South-American au-pair taking the Alpha Course. She got a bit exacerbated by children, running riot in the house. She exclaimed quite passionately: ‘what are you doing, on earth?’ She rather meant: ‘what on earth, are you doing?’ Christians, immersed in the Spirit’s culture, should not be surprised and disheartened that the world around does not understand their beliefs and actions. Paul makes the challenging point that people who do not have the Spirit of Christ, are alien to Kingdom culture and thus unable to grasp Kingdom realities. Similarly, a blind person cannot fully appreciate a beautiful outfit, and a deaf person cannot give credit to the best symphony.
The church of Corinth was largely made up of gentiles. As their church planter, Paul wanted to equip them to live for Christ and by Christ’s Spirit in a secular and polytheistic society. The previous verses suggest that there are divisions in the congregation because of disagreements over issues such as the message of the Cross. I am also convinced that sharing in the Spirit of Christ increases harmony and unity in relationships.
God’s will can be challenging, demanding and even controversial. As we seek to honour Christ in all we do, the Spirit can give us the grace to accept God’s will and leading, even when they sound like foolishness to the world around us. To people who struggle to understand the Bible and its relevance for their lives, my advice is to always seek the Spirit’s assistance through prayer before, during and after they read.
When we go through rough seasons of life, when things around us are bewildering, the Spirit of Christ can share God’s wisdom and heart with us, so that we can persevere when others would give up.
Christ, our way, our truth and our life, thank you for sharing your heart and mind with us. In confusion, may your Spirit bring clarity and peace. In division, bind us together through unity in diversity. When ridiculed for being faithful to you, grant us the grace to keep our eyes fixed on you. When we feel lost and shaken, may your Spirit be our anchor and compass. Amen.
The Rev’d Bachelard Kaze Yemtsa is a minster in the East Midlands Synod