Rev. Clay Horton, Senior Pastor at Vista Ridge United Methodist Church
My hunch is you’ve been in a Bible study where the leader, after reading a scripture, has said, “Now let’s apply the scripture to our lives.” There’s a chance you’ve said it and I know I certainly have as well. When we say that, we’re trying to connect our lives and the Holy scriptures. We’re trying to connect a text, that sometimes feels very distant, to our world today.
However, the only problem with that phrase is that we typically apply something small to something that has more significance. For instance, we apply spackle to a wall, apply mustard to our hamburger, and apply product to our hair. Clearly, the wall, the hamburger, and the hair are far more important than the mere bit of spackle, yellow condiment, or sticky goo. If we apply the scriptures to our lives, we’re (unintentionally) implying that the scriptures are far less significant than our lives. It’s almost as if the whole of scripture were created to address my specific life situation. When we read our Bible, I find it’s more helpful to focus on applying my life to the scriptures. It reminds me that my life, of which I am very grateful, is pretty tiny in comparison to God’s full relationship with humanity. Despite the fact that I believe God knows me and loves me, the Bible doesn’t revolve around my life. I am just a small part of God’s story of redemption, love, and grace.
It’s with that mindset that I can approach scripture with a little bit more humility and an openness to see what God has taught others before me. I love to ask three questions when I study scripture: 1) What does this say about God? 2) What does this say about humanity? and 3) What is God calling me to do?
The more we study scripture, the more we learn about God and God’s character. From beginning to end, the Bible continually teaches how beautifully diverse and complex God is. Similarly, the scriptures teach us about humanity. There are so many Biblical characters that (sometimes unfortunately) remind us of ourselves and our struggles. It’s only after learning about God and learning about our connection with humanity that we can then begin to discover what God is calling us to do next. I think this process helps us apply our lives to the scriptures. In We are All Corinthians, Steve Gosling beautifully helps us work through this process with 1 and 2 Corinthians.
We Are All Corinthians is focused on helping the reader, or perhaps I should say pilgrim, deeply connect with God by focusing on Paul’s Letters to the Corinthians. This is not a daily devotional or study to rush through, but it’s instead a weekly devotional that helps guide those who are willing into a deeper understanding of God, the people called Corinthians, and one’s self.
Gosling’s recommendation that the reader return to each devotional 3 times a week is a breath of fresh air in an era of drive-through devotionals. This book doesn’t offer biggie fries or anything that is over processed. Instead, the invitation from Gosling, and I’d dare say from the Holy Spirit, is to approach this book slowly, with a heart hungry for the Good News of Christ.
By approaching the same scripture 3 times in a one week, the Holy Spirit has time and space to do the work that God needs to do in our lives. Some weeks, you might find that you come away with something new each time you read the scripture and devotional. Other weeks, you might find that God is driving the same point home. Either way, there is something powerful about working through Paul’s Letters to the Corinthians slowly.
As you let God speak to you through the scriptures, you will be blessed by Steve Gosling’s commentary. It is clear he has done extensive research on the Apostle Paul and the Letters to the Corinthians. The exegetical work is thorough and yet very approachable. The scriptural commentary helps the reader have a better understanding of what the text is saying about God and about humanity, specifically the Corinthians. The more we study the church at Corinth, we discover that they teach us a lot about many of the timeless characteristics of humanity. Their struggles are our struggles. We truly are all Corinthians.
Gosling’s devotional commentary that follows the scriptural commentary is a gentle nudge to help the reader discover what God is calling them to do next. It’s always thought provoking and guided by the Holy Spirit.
Between the scripture and the commentary, participants in this devotional will be able to fully wrestle with the questions, “What does this say about God?”, “What does this say about humanity?” and “What is God calling me to do?”
A journey with a weekly devotional of this length is not a sprint, but it’s a long and beautiful road-trip with many adventures, stops, and learnings along the way. May you feel God’s peace, presence, and grace every week of this journey.