April 3 – 1 Corinthians 1:10-17

Thursday, April 3, 2014

1 Corinthians 1:10-17 – Division

I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.” 

Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, so no one can say that you were baptized in my name. (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.) For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

Christian communities are often easily divided. We take sides based on what we believe to be true and who we believe to be the best representative of those things with which we agree. In some churches it is a building campaign that creates division, in some churches it is the style of worship. Other times it is the way money is or is not being spent, and sometimes it is about what the pastor preaches on any given Sunday. Maybe it's the pastor's family or the color of carpet being put down in the foyer. It could be a new sound system or refurbishing the education wing. The pianist plays too loudly on Sunday mornings or the high school Sunday School class is too noisy in their classroom.

There is always something in place which will bring about division and separation and Paul reminds the readers of this letter of the importance of unity. For the sake of Jesus Christ, the things that we say to each other outside the church is of utmost importance. We should be in unity so that people are drawn to Jesus. Chaos among the community of believers is never a good evangelical tool, even if we believe that we are justified in our words and actions. We are never justified if we portray Jesus Christ to the world in a bad light.

As important as that is the need for there to be no division among Christ's church. In the Corinthian church, people were taking sides against each other by proclaiming that they followed different leaders. The most self-righteous of them disclaimed Paul, Apollos and Peter by claiming that they only followed Jesus.

Paul speaks to the absurdity of the divisions in the church at Corinth. He is not responsible for their salvation. He is not their savior. Baptism was not what he did, he came only to preach the gospel. Everything Paul did pointed to the cross of Christ and for the Corinthians to reduce that to political camps disgusted him.