For we are God’s servants, working together. (v. 9a)

1 Corinthians 3:1-9 Saturday 30 April 2022

Psalm 121


What is the worst thing that Christians have got wrong over the millennia? Historically there is a fairly grim list to choose from and we might want to congratulate ourselves on no longer carrying out capital punishment or demanding tithes from all the population. But what about things we get wrong today? We have largely gone quiet on the existence of denominations (different branches of the Church) and the numerous divisions in Christianity.

A couple of generations ago, the establishment of the World Council of Churches was a further step in what some considered to be the inevitable and necessary overcoming of denominational labels and barriers of all Christians. In countries such as India, Canada, Zambia and Australia a number of denominations chose to come together but In the last 30 years or so I think much of the energy has gone from such conversations. Somehow in the UK we are largely settled in our differences.

Does verse 9 challenge this, or support this? Today many, but not all, are likely to be working closely with neighbouring congregations from a wide variety of backgrounds, and are not too concerned about where we differ. We perhaps talk about theology, or how we understand God, less than some previous generations. But I wonder if this means we are still missing the challenge that God’s word brings us. Paul criticises the ‘denominational’ differences of those who claim they follow Apollos or Paul. This is not having the mind of Christ but being ‘merely human’ (v. 4).

I live in a part of the world that has suffered from decades of violence with a religious dimension. And it's not unique to Northern Ireland. Perhaps the challenge from this passage is to both worship and serve alongside all other Christians, but to continue to struggle until these human divisions are overcome.

 To Ponder:

  • Why do we largely not view denominations as a problem that needs to be solved?
  • Does an established Church (the official church of the state, for example the Church of England) still make sense in the 21st century?
  • Could the existence of denominations be a reason for many rejecting the claims of Christ? Or a reason why many call themselves Christians but want little to do with the Church?


Gracious God, may we be one, that the world might believe.

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