1 Corinthians 1:10-18 (click for full reading)
“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:18
(Click on the title above to listen to the sermon)
Professor David Lose reminds us that Jesus called ordinary people right in the middle of their ordinary lives to be in relationship with the ordinary people all around them and through that did extraordinary things … and he still does.
Even so, church squabbles over issues big and small have caused untold numbers of faith communities to come apart at the seams. I guess the first thing we notice when we read about the community Paul is addressing in 1 Corinthians, is that we did not invent church squabbles. Some conflict within the church is a timeless tradition going way back.
Now, there is a difference between unity and uniformity. Paul begs the Corinthians to find unity; he knew better than to think they would ever become perfectly uniform. To use a musical metaphor, Paul wants the Corinthians to sing in harmony, not in unison.
Professor Lose offers a faithful vision of the church as a community bearing each others burdens, caring for each other and especially the vulnerable, holding onto each other through thick and thin, always with the hope and promise of God’s abundant grace. I believe every human being yearns to belong to just such a community.
Questions to Ponder or Discuss:
1. Have you experienced conflict within the church community? If so, how did that conflict affect you and your involvement in the community?
2. Is there such a thing as “healthy conflict” in the church? Is it possible for the differing perspectives of church members to actually strengthen the faith community rather than threaten it?
3. What is your own vision of the community of faith in Christ known as the church? Can this community survive for generations to come? What will the church look like when your children and grandchildren are adults? What can we do in our time that will affect the church of our grand-kids?
This week I encourage you to think about the church and your place in it. Picture the people you sit near during worship. Try to think about those members of your community of faith with whom you have the least in common. They may be much older or much younger. They may be way on the other end of the political spectrum from you. Now take a moment and pray for those folks. This is church.