Bible Studies for Life
Emory Berry, Jr., Senior Pastor
Greenforest Community Baptist Church, Decatur
In every generation there are men and women who emerge and leave an indelible mark on history and herstory. One such person during the 20th century was the Rev. Dr. Benjamin Elijah Mays.
In Dr. Mays’ lifetime he would come to be known as a scholar, professor, college president, and civil rights activist just to name a few. To this end, he is one whose name will forever be recorded in the archives and annals of time as a man of significance and importance. Most notably, he is known for his impact and influence on the world as President of Morehouse College in Atlanta. Although Dr. Mays had been fortunate to help many young black men matriculate and graduate from the all-male Morehouse College, there was one student who emerged to stand head and shoulders above the rest. The student in reference is the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who often referred to Dr. Mays as his “spiritual mentor.”
In his book “Born to Rebel: An Autobiography” by Dr. Benjamin E. Mays, he writes about the reoccurring inquiry by journalists, reporters, and panelists about his influence on Dr. King’s life. To this end, Dr. Mays pens in his autobiography “There is no way one can know the degree of influence one has upon another. I can only say that I am honored to have had a small part in helping to mold the life of one of the noblest spirits of all time.”
I mention this story of Dr. May’s influence on Dr. King to illustrate that the same could be said about the Apostle Paul’s unconscious influence and positive impact on Christianity. However, I contend that the impact of Jesus’ life, death, burial, and resurrection on the world was a part of God’s deliberate desire and design for humanity.
In I Corinthians 15, we read the Apostle Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth. Paul, whose name once was Saul before his Damascus Road transformation in Acts 9, was a persecutor of the Church. However, due to the life-changing power of Jesus Christ, Paul was called by Christ to be a preacher of the gospel, pastor of churches, planter of churches, and penman of Scripture.
This is significant because Paul’s life proves for us that an authentic encounter with Jesus Christ can change someone for the better, forever. As Paul writes to the church in Corinth, which was a popular sea trade city, he was aware of the sin that existed there. Due to the fact that the church in Corinth often interfaced with people from various cultures, customs, and theologies, their faith in Christ was often contaminated and polluted. Nonetheless, Paul knew that if the people held fast to their faith (verses 1-2) they would be just fine.
Similarly, as Christians we live in a world saturated with strange philosophies and peculiar theologies that contaminate and pollute our faith. However, we have the potential to spiritually and socially influence society with the gospel if we hold fast to our faith.
Paul is very unapologetic and ashamed about reminding the church of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (verses 3-4). In the same way, we should proudly, sincerely, and courageously declare that Jesus is the Savior of the world. In addition, we should willingly and cheerfully share with others that Jesus lived, died, was buried, and rose on the 3rd day from the grave with all power in His hands. On this RESURRECTION morning, let’s tell a dying world that Jesus is ALIVE and wants to live in their hearts. Amidst our COVID-19 worldwide pandemic, God has truly gotten the attention of the world. What better time than now to offer the living hope and power that comes from our Resurrected Savior?
In closing, let us rejoice as Paul did (verses 9-11) about the grace that was extended to him despite his faults, frailties, and failures. Specifically, Paul mentions the word “grace” three times (verse 10) which suggests that Paul understood that he was a “Grace Case.” Saints of God, we ought to rejoice today like never before because we have been extended the GRACE of God through salvation in spite of our sins and shortcomings.
In short, we are all a “GRACE CASE”! Let us rejoice today because we serve a risen savior who lives today and forever more! Beloved, let us continue to be ambassadors for Christ and let the world know that the resurrection power of Jesus is available for all!
Emory Berry, Jr., serves as senior pastor of Greenforest Community Baptist Church in Decatur.