Generally speaking, the greeting portion of a letter is not the most exciting or informative; however, Paul’s salutations to the Corinthians provide some interesting context for the rest of the letter.
To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.1 Corinthians 1:2-3
Paul is writing this letter to the church in Corinth. He’s addressing fellow believers–men and women that have placed their faith and trust in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sin and the hope of eternal life.
Why is that significant? Because sometimes it doesn’t feel like Paul is writing to a group of Christians. Throughout his letter to the church in Corinth, Paul is constantly addressing division, immorality, idolatry, and more–even the kind of heinous things that are “not tolerated among pagans” (1 Corinthians 5:1). If the church in Corinth was indeed a church, it is certainly a dysfunctional one, right?
Well, yes. And not necessarily.
I would contend that the church in Corinth was simply the first century predecessor of the church today: a collection of broken, imperfect, sinful people united by faith in Jesus Christ that are striving, albeit imperfectly, to live in relationship with Christ and one another. The church in Corinth was a real life example of what every church has been and will be until Jesus comes back for his bride.
That’s not to say that we should not pray and work and strive to build healthier churches–of course we should! Rather, it’s simply a reminder that there are no perfect churches, because there are no perfect people. Hang around any church long enough, and you’ll begin to see all the warts, blemishes, and imperfections. But don’t let that scare you away–instead, consider it an invitation. You’ll fit in just fine.