Friday, January 22, 2016

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

United in Christ’s Love
1 Corinthians 1:10-18
Chris Mathew Thomas
  St. John’s MTC,  NY
17 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to proclaim the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its power.

There’s a book entitled “War in The Pews” that talks about real-life instances which are absolutely outrageous. In Mississippi, in a small town northeast of Vicksburg there were two churches that shared a common parking lot. They were of the same denomination. But, because of some differences of opinion, they had split and they now share that parking lot. I wonder if they remember what the split was about. These divisions or quarrels are not something new in the church but it existed right from the beginning.

Paul founded the church in Corinth on his second missionary journey. Eighteen months after he left, arguments and divisions arose. In 1 Corinthians 1:10-17, Paul addresses these divisions in the Church. The reports that Paul was hearing indicated that the congregation had split into various factions. The believers favored different preachers because they depended heavily on them for spiritual insight into the meaning of the Old Testament. Although these three preachers (Paul, Apollos & Cephas) were united in their message, their personalities attracted different people.

1 Corinthians 3:4–6, For when one says, "I belong to Paul," and another, "I belong to Apollos," are you not merely men? What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.
God should get the glory for the results of all ministerial labor, not man. In Paul's thirteen letters he almost always begins by telling us who he is in relation to God and who we are in relation to God. In addition, when you read 1 Cor:1-10 Paul mentions Jesus Christ ten times making it clear to all that God’s message is much more important than any human messenger.

Christ is not Divided:
Paul wondered with the divisions in church had “divided” Christ. This is a clear graphic picture of what happens when the church is divided. With the many styles of worship, the different churches and eloquent preachers that we see around us, we could also get caught up in the game of “my church is better than yours” or “my preacher is better than yours”. Our congregations are not much different from the Church in Corinth which was riddled with factions, beset by difference and given to quarreling. This is the reality in so many Churches. We are human beings, fallen creatures, by nature sinful and unclean.But we are also people of God. Along with Paul's description comes his prescription. We must never be satisfied with things as they are, but must work and pray for things as they should be. Paul is clear about that. He is beseeching the Corinthians, -and us-, to set aside our differences and be united in the same mind and same purpose. 

This week, as we reflect upon 1 Corinthians 1:10-17 and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. legacy, the call to unity does not mean giving up what is distinctive about us, or forcing others to give up what is distinctive about them.  It means our allegiance must be to Christ and to the unity that He desires. If we come together in one mind and one purpose, then we live out what we already are, Christ's Church, and then we become truly the people God wants us to be. As we accept each other, speak well of each other, interpret the actions of each other in the kindest way, love each other, we come closer to Christ.


Father, please help us to walk in a manner worthy of You and Your call to us. Give us a spirit of humility, gentleness and patience that we may show tolerance for one another in love. Please give us a forgiving spirit, so that we can put on love which is the perfect bond of unity. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.
"The most important aspect of Christianity is not the work we do, but the relationship we maintain and the surrounding influence and qualities produced by that relationship. That is all God asks us to give our attention to, and it is the one thing that is continually under attack.” ― Oswald ChambersMy Utmost for His Highest