1 Corinthians 1:10-17

“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.” 1 Corinthians 1:10-17

There were two campus pastors where I went to college. One was a live wire, the life of the party, the guy who wore a goofy hat at football games and got the crowd into the game. He also said my name when he gave me Holy Communion in chapel. The other was quiet, quoted poetry in his sermons, and was a little older. I was always a bit disappointed when the older pastor preached or when I found myself in his line for communion. I completely understand why the Corinthian church became divided amongst those who preferred one pastor over another. It is human nature. Fallen human nature. And it is dangerous.

It also is a door that swings both ways. Lots of Christian leaders are attracted to being the voice in the front of the room, the person who tilts every meeting in their own direction. Lots of Christian communities have been severely damaged by egotistical or narcissistic pastors desperate for the attention that comes with the job. Or two pastors vying for the hearts and minds of the congregation.

The truth is that there is a little humility and hubris in all of us. We seek relationships that work and that often means gravitating toward some while finding others grating. But pastors and parishioners do well to remember that it is not all about us and our needs, our preferences, or our positions.

Paul says that the antidote for over-doting is the power of the cross of Christ. The focus is on the Word, not on the one called to proclaim it or those gathered to hear. The power is in the gospel, the declaration of God’s love, the new found freedom and response-ability to follow, to serve, to heal, and to pass it on to the next person.

Whether it is divisions within our own congregation, personality conflicts amongst members, or divisions between denominations, the underlying unity of the church is the power and work of the Holy Spirit. We all do well to remember who we work for and Who works within and amongst us.

By the way, I once went to my favorite campus pastor to talk about a very painful issue in my life. His counsel was awful. He was a great guy but he didn’t know what he was talking about. And, when I was in the darkest moment of my years in college, it was the older pastor who rearranged his schedule to give me an hour. THAT conversation changed my life. And later he was the one I talked to while trying to decide between the seminary and law school. I guess we know how that turned out.

Let us pray: Gracious Lord, it is natural for us to be inclined toward some leaders over others. And there are times when that is completely appropriate. But we recognize the danger when we find ourselves over identifying with human leaders over you. Forgive us for that and heal us from the inside out so that we can hear your Word regardless of who speaks it. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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3 Responses to “1 Corinthians 1:10-17”

  1. Rita Wade Says:

    Thank you for the dedication it takes to write a new devotion every day! I always read this first and take whatever message there is that pertains to my particular situation that day. Your voice is heard in Kansas.

  2. Bernice Heck Says:

    Today, it dawned on my how very much I appreciate you and your work in the Ministry of our Lord. I have never met you, but I do appreciate The messages you work out and share with us. You are with the ‘times’ of our day. May the Lord continue to bless you as you bless us with these devotionals. Thank you !

    Bernice Heck

  3. Mel Werner Says:

    Particularly helpful message for me as our congregation just called a new pastor to replace the pastor who built our congregation from the ground up. After unanimous votes the whole way through the call process, I know that God has brought us this pastor to lead us further on our path. Thank you for your dedication to this daily message. Greatly appreciated and always a nice way to start my day.

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