Now I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there are quarrels among you, my brothers and sisters. What I mean is that each of you says, “I belong to Paul,” or “I belong to Apollos,” or “I belong to Cephas,” or “I belong to Christ.” Has Christ been divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one can say that you were baptized in my name. (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) 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. For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. [NRSV]
The World is divided
Politics, Religions, Football Teams and Left Twix or Right Twix. Have you tried having a meaningful conversation about the hot topics of the day?
- You either talk to no one and TRY to avoid the conversation and grow cynical and isolated?
- You surround yourself with like minded people for comfort and protection.
- We dare begin the conversation because we think we can change someone’s mind and end up fueling fires we didn’t intend to start or
- We love starting arguments because we enjoy bullying, shaming or agitating people.
I suggest we need to show the world an alternative to the division. Hear Paul’s challenge and calling to do just that:
Paul writes at the opening of his letter.
- His first letter,
- his first matter,
- his most important point is about agreement and division.
He urges us to think about how we define ourselves.
- I’m one of Chloe’s people
- I belong to Apollos,
- I belong to Cephas
- I belong to Paul
- I belong to the original member core
- I belong to the newbies
- I belong to this Preacher or that minister
- Well, I belong to Christ, with a self-righteous tone of judgment.
Paul’s Letter begins with a Super Nanny Interruption.
You know the Super Nanny, that British nanny that sets up cameras throughout a frustrated parent-child home and observes and then lays down the new laws to correct the dysfunctional and divided family.
Paul’s Letter begins laying the hammer down on what divides us.
- I will tell you what divides us?
- It is not Christ that divides us,
- WE divide ourselves
We are being called to take responsibility for what divides us.
- It’s not social media
- It’s not tv and politicians
- It’s not elections and conversations
- It is what is cooking in our own hearts, mind and souls.
Paul’s call is #1, first step
- Stop with the groupings.
- Stop with the interest groups.
- Stop with the privileged class, stop being in the victim group.
#2, Second Step: Remember the Goal,
- Same Mindedness
- Same Purpose
As an aside, one of the things I love about this passage is Paul’s (wasteful misuse of paper in writing his rambling thoughts about who he did or did not baptize in the middle of a power challenge and stern instruction.)
Number #3, Step three
Personal Question of Faith and Self-Reflection
What does the cross of Jesus Christ actually mean to you and your life?
We are studying the Apostle’s Creed as a historic listing of points about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the church. But there is a core question that is at the heart of any statement of beliefs:
What does the cross of Jesus Christ personally mean to you and your life?
When we have come clinging to the power of the death and resurrection as our only hope and salvation, then we have a place to reflect on our differences.
Facebook proves verse 18 to be true. “The cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but a power to those being saved.”
When we start talking to another person, we might heart lovely words about Jesus, but sometimes the words are a
- noisy gong,
- empty platitudes,
- self-righteous memes, or
- “the correct answers, without listening to the questions.”
Let’s be clear about step #3:
- Does the cross of Jesus Christ mean that Jesus died for all your mistakes, sins and failures?
- Does the cross of Jesus Christ mean that Jesus Died for your times of pride and arrogance?
- Does the cross of Jesus Christ mean that Jesus Offers himself in your place in judgment?
- Does the cross of Jesus Christ mean that Jesus Promises to stand with you in the face of fear?
- Does the cross of Jesus Christ mean that Jesus Promises to stand with you in the fiery furnace?
- Does the cross of Jesus Christ mean that Jesus Gives your strength in the face of persecution when you are trying to be faithful to his example?
- Does the cross of Jesus Christ mean that Jesus Encourage and empower you to see the best in others?
- Does the cross of Jesus Christ mean that Jesus Divides us into groups, camps, parties, etc.?
- Does the cross of Jesus Christ mean that Jesus Calls us to bully and shame one another as long as in his name?
- Does the cross of Jesus Christ mean that Jesus Wants us to continue sinning and testing?
- Does the cross of Jesus Christ mean that Jesus Wants us to act nice when we are together, but ponder evil in our hearts?
- Does the cross of Jesus Christ mean that Jesus excuses us from avoiding evil and confrontation because we are uncomfortable?
- What power does the cross of Jesus give your daily life?
If you don’t have an answer, then we have found our place to start.
We will not find agreement, one mind, one purpose until we find the POWER of the cross.
Paul calls on Chloe’s people, people of Apollos, Cephas, Paul, Rock Spring, Peavine, D.C., Chattanooga, Atlanta, Detroit, Chicago, Dallas, and every nation and tribe.
God offers us the power of true hope, complete salvation, and confidence to see a way out when we have closed our hearts, our minds, and doors.
If you are ready to claim the power of Jesus has for you, for our church, for our country, for a world hurting and divided. We let go of control and commit ourselves newly or renewed, Take my Life and let it be filled your power, your word, your love, your truth,
Your hope, Your Peace
And Jesus leads the way from there.
Paul’s call here is for the faithful, the church, not the unbeliever. His task is to make sure the GOSPEL has a POWERFUL hold on our hearts.
Ask your neighbor: Do you know the Power of Jesus Christ
- IF they say yes, say praise the Lord
- If that say no or I’m not sure, say, let’s talk
- If they don’t say anything, then say, Today’s the day to “get of the pot/fence” and live in Christ.
- When you hear division: Call on Christ to heal, protect and bring solutions.
- When you see chasms of thought: Think what does the Cross compel me to do or say.
- When you experience a brother or sister remaining quiet and not backing you up, ask them if they want to know more about Jesus or are in their silence are they choosing someone/thing other than Christ. Now is when the world needs the cross.