The Focus of Reconciliation
Read 1 Corinthians 1:10-17, 3:5-23
"For we are God's fellow workers, you are god's field, God's building."
The church in Corinth was in deep trouble. Even though they lived in a hostile environment of a very pagan and idolatrous city, they had allowed internal conflicts and strife to fracture the unity of the church. Rather than being united in the gospel's common cause, they had instead become focused upon personalities and factions. Some were claiming allegiance to Paul. Others were adherents to Apollos and Peter. Some, in an attitude of superiority and super spirituality, were claiming to follow Christ. The result is that the church became divided as each promoted their nuanced views and agenda. The church became split into various factions, and it threatened the unity and existence of the congregation. What was at the core of this debate is unclear. It might have reflected different nuanced theological views that were minor in importance but became the center of division. Others have suggested that at issue causing division was social status and class. Most likely, it was centered upon personalities and styles of ministry. Much like today, where we become adherents to specific preachers and teachers and prioritize their ministry over others, we have become divided over which personality and leadership style was best.
But we are no different today. The political divide that is fracturing our country is infiltrating the church and even families. We differ in our views regarding the appropriate response to Covid-19. We become divided over the worship styles and music of the church services. We allow our personal preferences to become more important than unity. The result is that broken relationships are fracturing us.
To address the issue, Paul does not focus on the cause of the division but upon what is the basis for our unity. Instead of trying to bring uniformity in thought (which is impossible), Paul points us to the agreement we are to have because of our relationship which Christ. He shifts their focus from the things that divide to the one thing that unites: the gospel of Christ. We are to promote unity because of our identification with Christ.
This week we will be exploring how to restore broken relationships. As our society becomes more and more fractured, we have the opportunity to be ministers of reconciliation. This begins by focusing upon the person of Christ. Christ, not the politicians or political parties, provides us the answers we desperately need today. If others reject us, it should not be because of our political views or personal preferences; it should only be because we are followers of Christ. Anything other than this becomes a distraction and misguided priority, for Christ calls us to promote peace. Indeed, we cannot compromise the gospel and our faith in it for the sake of unity. Christ warns us that to do so is ultimately destructive for us and others. However, we must also not allow our personal views to cause us to be divided from others, especially within the church.
As you look at your broken relationships, ask why they are broken. If it is because of Christ, then remain steadfast in your faith, but continue to love those that might oppose you. If it is because of politics, personal opinions or viewpoints, or differences of personality, then take steps to promote peace and acceptance despite the differences you might have. This starts by centering your life and priority on Christ.