Paul’s Greatest Flex
Some of you have become arrogant, as if I were not coming to you. But I will come to you very soon, if the Lord is willing, and then I will find out not only how these arrogant people are talking, but what power they have. For the realm of God is not a matter of talk but of power. – 1 Corinthians 4:18-20 (NIV)
What Paul is doing here could be referred to as a “flex.” He is writing to a divided people separated into camps by thorny theological matters. But Paul says in no uncertain terms that he is going to win the day. That’s a flex.
The reason Paul is so confident comes down to power. Specifically, the power to work miracles. Paul has healed the sick, deliver the possessed, made a path back to life even at death’s door. If you want to know who is following God, Paul says to look for those binding up wounds and healing the broken.
American Christians across the country are once again publicly waging culture wars. The dignity and worth of LGBTQ people, the lived experience of black people throughout American history, all are being argued by Christians nationwide.
Those in positions of privilege and comfort take up these matters as if they are debate society fodder. But in fact, they mean the difference between life and death for the vulnerable.
Remember Paul’s greatest flex. If you want to know who is right in a theological debate, look for those healing the wounded and welcoming back the outcast. That is divine power. The realm of God is not a matter of talk but of power.
God, may the needs of the vulnerable always be at the center of the Church’s witness.
John Edgerton is Lead Pastor at First United Church of Oak Park, Illinois.