God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. 1 Corinthians 1:9
This is the key verse of First Corinthians. The rest of the letter revolves around it. It is a statement that God had called them to a very important relationship, and that this is the reason for all of the problems in the church. They had not understood the implications of their calling, and the relationship they personally had with Jesus himself. Instead, beginning with the very next verse, the apostle has to deal with divisions, scandals, lawsuits, immorality, drunkenness and quarreling. It is very clear that, despite the fullness of provision which they had received, they were experiencing a great failure in the church. They had all this ability to do all these mighty things in the Spirit, but not much was happening out in the city. Instead of making an impact on Corinth, Corinth was making an impact on the church. All these ugly attitudes and actions that were going on every day out in the city were beginning to infiltrate into the church, and instead of the church changing the city, the city was changing the church.
This reminds me of Peter Marshall’s very vivid description of contemporary Christians. He says,
Christians are like deep-sea divers encased in suits designed for many fathoms deep, marching bravely forth to pull plugs out of bathtubs! What was wrong was the Corinthians lack of understanding of what it meant to have Jesus Christ living among them. The major struggle of most churches is right at this point. They have lost the sense that Jesus is among them, that they have an individual relationship to the Lord of glory himself. They no longer live their lives in the awareness and the excitement that they are partners with Christ in everything they do. When that begins to fade from the Christian consciousness, all these troubles that the Corinthians were experiencing begin to crowd in. This letter is written to call them back to an awareness of what it means to have fellowship with Christ.