There are a lot of great places to go with the lectionary readings this week. If you go to the Hebrew scriptures you can catch up on Saul, the "people's king" and God's displeasure which leads to a plan to replace Saul..it's a good story to spend time on, no dispute from me.
But, since the theme of community was where we ended last,
rest in reflection:
"We are always confident; even though we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord-- for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we do have confidence, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For all of us must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may receive recompense for what has been done in the body, whether good or evil.
Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we try to persuade others; but we ourselves are well known to God, and I hope that we are also well known to your consciences. We are not commending ourselves to you again, but giving you an opportunity to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast in outward appearance and not in the heart. For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them. From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!" (2 Corinthians 5:6-17)
There is no way anyone can miss the lack of singularity in this message that Paul wrote to the church in Corinth. He with others...to a group.
The letter establishes a new way of thinking about living, and a new understanding that the human body is actually inhibiting the spirit/soul from being completely united with God...BUT, that while in the body, there is purpose to being.
I am absolutely certain that every last person has a purpose, for which God has equipped them to fulfill.I am not certain that God went about preordaining that purpose for each and every last person at the very beginning of our lives or as some say "from the foundations of creation." My doubt of such meticulously laid plans is grounded in my firm belief that God is not a puppeteer, manipulating humanity individually and corporately. It is further grounded in my experience. My life, has been so filled with places and events, people and opportunities which I am quite sure God would not have mapped out my intersection with at the foundations of the world. But I have been equally certain that Triune God has been working within the encounters.
In fact, from the time I've spent reading scripture, I am firmly convinced that part and parcel of being made in the image of God is the innate ability to think and freely choose from a vast array of options. Often the options have all been of equal value...like when weighed in prayer. A word of direction felt on several occasions of discernment has been repeated "Go or stay, but study peace."
Being "in Christ" has brought me deeper and deeper into community which includes marking auspicious occasions as well as somber realities of parting ways through the passing from life in the body to eternal life. I've experienced the sense of never having been separated from a dear friend in spite of a great distance created by too many miles between our residences and too seldom having the opportunity to be in the same room. When I read Paul's letters, like this one to the "people called out", aka "the church" in Corinth I sense that what I've known is similar to what Paul desires to express to the recipients of his letter.
The places to begin to wrestle with this passage then is a basic question of life:
What is your purpose?
Now, going deeper, how did you discover that purpose?
Was it discerned within a community, or your own independent decision?
Are you living it out faithfully or have you dropped the ball?
Paul's purpose, along with his partner(s) was always to point the way to God through the testimony of Christ, died, resurrected, and receiving all into himself. Christ Jesus is the new point of view, the new reality, and in Christ all are being made into something entirely different from the human existence.
May you find yourself more deeply rooted into a community of faith, and experience the joys of being focused on those who are outside, not upon your own self.