God's word in today's world

An honorary doctorate for you?

1 Corinthians 16:5-24

This is the last of 2014. Maybe just a bit tongue-in-cheek, but a significant message for now and for 2015. Enjoy!

In the conclusion of his letter to the young congregation in Corinth Paul chats about people who were sending their greetings and names a couple of young Christians who can be an example for everyone. 15Would you do me a favour, 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. 16I want you to honour and look up to people like that: companions and workers who show us how to do it, giving us something to aspire to.

Stephanas and his family understood what it meant to be a Christian. They realised that being a Christian is not simply a title that you received in one way or another. It is not like an honorary doctoral degree that you received for an achievement of some sort. Sometimes even the awarding of honorary doctorates become bizarre. Like Cat Stevens getting one a year before he is arrested for possible involvement in terrorist activities. Mike Tyson received one, although he had never even finished school. The most ridiculous one is probably the one awarded to Kermit the Frog of Muppets fame. An honorary doctorate for a lifeless puppet? Sometimes people are mad.

Stephanas and his family understood that this was not what being a Christian was about. It’s not about a title. No, it’s about doing. They simply understood that being a Christian meant that the people around you were changed. Being a Christian changes your selfish way of life around so that you can make space for other people in your life, even if they don’t look or smell so good. Instead of holding out your hands to receive, their hands turn around and start sharing.

Paul uses Stephanas and his family as an example of how a Christian should really live. And you probably expect that the story about Stephanas and his family is now going to be used as an example for you. You’re right! If somebody in your community of believers had to be used as an example of how a Christian should live, would you have been nominated?

Eina! This question stops you in your tracks.

When I look back on Paul’s letter to the congregation in Corinth and I see how inexperienced the members were and how much they were still part of this world, I realise I still have much to learn. I trip far too often. I take the wrong turn and make totally wrong choices.

Fortunately, we realise that and we turn around and try harder to live according to God’s will. Like Stephanas and his family we must turn our hands around and start getting dirty working in God’s lands. We must turn away from what we want to what we can give people who struggle to live according to the will of God just like us. We must look for places where we can make a difference, which, strangely enough, are often not so far away as we thought. And no, we don’t need an honorary doctorate to be seen. Simply live within the will of God and pass His grace on to the people around you, and your example will make God smile.

And with Paul I’d like to conclude 1 Corinthians as follows: And I love all of you (Crossroads readers) in the Messiah, in Jesus.

In this festive season, may you know that you are capable of anything, because God gives you strength. May you use that strength to make a difference in the lives of other people. May you be excited about 2015 and know that your God will always be with you, that He will be your Right-hand!

And with Paul I conclude with 1 Corinthians: 24And I love all of you (the Crossroads readers) in the Messiah, in Jesus … because we all belong to Him. May the grace of God, the love of Jesus and the proximity of the Spirit be with you, now and in 2015!


Whose hands are turned?

Are you a Christian in name only?

Do others see your title?


Our Father, thank you for the opportunity to listen to Paul’s wonderful words to the Corinthians. Thank you that we could learn and see that we have so much more to learn. Please help us not to become slack and miss the bus. Please help us to have an impact in other people’s lives and that others can use us as an example of how it must be done. Amen

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