When text messaging first came along, it began to place an emphasis on shortness and brevity of messages. They offer 160 characters for the price of one text, and as each text costs, it became important to say what you wanted to as briefly as possible. Twitter has reduced that to 140 characters, we need to get even briefer! (Though telegrams were charged per word, which must have focussed the mind even more, but they were for special occasions not the every day communication that texts and tweets have become).
Paul was quite a letter writer, and he wasn’t afraid to use as many words as he felt he needed in places. Here he begins his letter to The Corinthians.
1 Corinthians 1:1-9 (CEV)
1 From Paul, chosen by God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and from Sosthenes, who is also a follower.
2 To God’s church in Corinth. Christ Jesus chose you to be his very own people, and you worship in his name, as we and all others do who call him Lord.
3 My prayer is that God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ will be kind to you and will bless you with peace!
4 I never stop thanking my God for being kind enough to give you Christ Jesus, 5 who helps you speak and understand so well. 6 Now you are certain that everything we told you about our Lord Christ Jesus is true. 7 You are not missing out on any blessings, as you wait for him to return. 8 And until the day Christ does return, he will keep you completely innocent. 9 God can be trusted, and he chose you to be partners with his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
This introduction reads like a whole list of things that Paul needed to get off his chest quickly. Things he wanted to say to the Corinthians all tumble out. About how Jesus chose them, they are God’s own people, that all who call him Lord are worshippers, a prayer for blessing and peace, Paul’s thankfulness for them, that Paul is certain all he told them is true, they’re not missing anything as they wait for Christ’s return, that Christ’s return will come, when he does come they will be kept innocent, that God can be trusted and God has chosen them to be partners!
These things form the basis of what he wants to get across. He is setting out how he feels about them and their relationship with God. He is going to go on to speak to them about the problems that have arisen in the church and life there, so first of all he wants to get where he is coming from clear. Things are not all bad – there is much to be celebrated.
Like every good leader, he wants to tell them what is good, before he tells them what the problems are. They may have those problems, but Paul still thanks God for the people there.
I wonder, if Paul were writing to me, what he would have to say. What could be improved, what needs a radical change, and what is actually to be celebrated?
It’s an interesting thing to contemplate before God.
here I am.
I want to learn,
to be more like the person
you ask me to be;
I’m going to listen
and really hear
my mid-term report.
what is to be celebrated,
to be changed,
to be got rid of,