I was reading 1 Corinthians the other day, and when I came across verse 13, I heard myself thinking, “Thank you, Paul!”
“Is Christ divided?”
Paul had a gift for spiritually smacking people upside the head. What was happening in the church he was writing to was a bunch of bickering in the congregation. One man would say, “I follow the teachings of Paul,” and the dude in the next pew would say, “Well I follow the teachings of Name-Your-Apostle.” They would argue about who was better; then both of them read this letter from Paul, and the light bulb finally went on in their heads.
I wish I could just have a rant with Paul about why in the world people still don’t get this. “Is Christ divided?” is a rhetorical question. Paul isn’t asking them something, he’s making a point. The Corinthian congregation was more caught up in the teachings of different teachers, apostles, and philosophers that they were about to miss the whole, simplistic message that God was trying to give them.
I hate when denominations quarrel. Fights between Protestants and Catholics have been going on for centuries, and have cause unfathomable amounts of trouble and spurred, sparked, and ignited unholy hatred among people who claim to follow the same God. Even the denominations that get along are still divided in essence. All this does is set up Christians, whose original definition was nothing but followers of Jesus, to be stereotyped. Imagine what it looks like to the rest of the world when people who are called to love and claim to be part of the same kingdom of heaven can’t get over nit-picky details and focus on Christ?
1 Corinthians 1:17
“For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel – not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of it’s power.”
Anything we humans add to what Jesus said about himself lessens the power and purity of the message, for “the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength” (v. 25). We know nothing! I’m reading The Barbarian Way, by Erwin McManus (I’m sure I’ll write about that later), and he would say that when we inject our own social norms into the word of God the result is civilized Christians. Even I consistently try to put God into terms that I can understand, to make him more normal, I guess. But it doesn’t work that way because we aren’t allowed to take any of the credit for what He’s done.
“Let him who boasts boast in the Lord!”