Today’s Reading: 1 Corinthians 15:1-11
Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.
For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.
1 Cor 15:1-11
1 Corinthians 15 is a 58 verse argument for the legitimacy of the Resurrection. The whole thing is a work of art with Paul making all sorts of arguments for the resurrection not just as a spiritual truth but as a physical event. At the outset of this argument, Paul lists the various witnesses to the risen Jesus. We get the disciples, Cephas, 500 brothers and sisters, James and then finally himself (as he saw Jesus on the road to Damascus).
Paul takes this moment to be absolutely clear about who he is, about his past, and about his growth. Here’s what he says:
He is unworthy of grace
One of the key features of Paul’s past is bearing the responsibility for actively participating in the persecution of the early church. If you read at the beginning of Acts, he is a villain. He is the personal embodiment of all of the various forms of persecution. It isn’t until his encounter with Jesus and his sudden conversion that he ultimately becomes a hero in the story of Acts. It can be easy to forget that Paul has a bad reputation and was an unlikely person to receive grace let alone a physical encounter with Jesus. And yet, Jesus appeared offering grace and that grace changed Paul.
He is a product of grace
Even beyond his early role in the Christian story, Paul had to work and continued to work toward being a faithful follower. He claims, with all believers, “I am what I am” by the grace of God. He is the product of grace washed over a person. He is highlighted as the least of the apostles and because of that, he worked harder than all of them. And even to this effort, he claims, yet not I but the grace of God that was with me. For Paul, all of his existence is swept up in grace.
Why say all this?
The answer swings us back to the very purpose of Paul’s writing in 1 Cor. 15. He is arguing for the resurrection and at the start, he wants to be clear: if the resurrection was not real he would not be here. He was the enemy of the church, he was a key player in the death of members of the early church, and he would not bother changing his ways without something more. For Paul, the truth of the resurrection is the necessary foundation on which the church exists and the reason that Paul would turn from his former life persecuting the church to instead helping to lead the church.
We are about to enter the Easter season and walk through the journey of the holy week. I want to encourage you to be thinking about the foundational importance of the resurrection over your life.
Who would you be without God’s grace over your life?
What has God done in and through you by his grace?
Today, let me encourage you to reflect on the phrase Paul uses: yet not I, but the grace of God with me.
There is a worship song that is focused on this (Yet Not I But Through Christ In Me) and I want you to take a moment, play the song, and reflect on the importance of grace over you.
Take care friends!
A Digital Refresh is a regular series for the staff at Mini-Yo-We.
When we gather together for worship and learn from God’s word we call it “Refresh.” Even though we aren’t at camp we can still gather together to share God’s word through a Digital Refresh.
If you would like to contribute reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.