11 March 20171 Corinthians 3:1-9
“You are still of the flesh. For as long as there is jealousy and quarrelling among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving according to human inclinations?” (v. 3)
Psalm: Psalm 119:81-96
The Corinthian church was a young and still needed guidance in its behaviour. But Paul's letter pulls no punches: "You are still worldly," he writes, 'acting like mere humans" (NIV). And in his eyes there was no excuse for that. They needed to grow up and start to behave like proper Christians, loving and caring for one another and for the community around them. Instead, they were quarrelling about doctrines and dividing into groups that followed different leaders.
Yet those individual leaders were all following the way of Christ. They just had their own particular gifts, which meant that they were involved in different stages of the process of bringing people to faith, and serving the Church and the wider world. None of them could, or would, claim to be the only way to God. Each had their part to play and no one was better than any other.
People are not all the same and we thank God for that. The world would be a dreadful place if we all had the same tastes, behaviour and opinions. Yet there can be unity without uniformity: a unity of faith, rooted in Christ.
For if we believe in God and in what Jesus did and said, and how he lived and died, and how that same Spirit that was in Jesus is still with us in our world today, then we have the essence of our faith and all the truth that we need to proclaim to an unbelieving world.
But when that truth is encapsulated in words and expanded in preaching and discussion, it can lead to dissension and argument followed by division, as individuals, or groups, interpret those words with a different preconception.
Only by sticking to the basic truth of our faith can we avoid the petty bickering that damages the image of God in the eyes of those who watch and condemn our behaviour as unworthy of the God we are supposed to worship.
'It's time you grew up!' is the essence of Paul's message.
- When does a discussion become an argument?
- How do you answer questions about divisions in the Church?