There are people in your life with whom you have had a very “complicated relationship”. You and them may have begun as family members or acquaintances and then became close friends for a season of your lives. Then, surprisingly to you, events unfolded that brought tension into the relationship. From there the subsequent dynamics between you became steadily worse, not better, even as you tried your best to overcome and get past the issues dividing you. Sometimes the other person’s perspective of you was unfair and their attacks on you became very personal and hurtful.
That was the story between the Apostle Paul and the Christian fellowship he founded and led for two years in the city of Corinth. After he left Corinth and continued his Gospel ministry his relationship with that fellowship became very complex and went from bad to worse! Many turned against him, rejecting both his teaching and authority. As he tried to encourage and instruct them some people in the Corinthian fellowship became more hostile to him. It took nearly a year of personal anguish and effort for Paul to regain the confidence of the majority of the believers in that city.
As we will see, Paul’s tensions with the Christian fellowship at Corinth prompted the most personal of his letters to be written, and brought about some of the richest truth about God’s love and what it means to live for Jesus in a world of “complicated relationships.”