Monday Devotional: January 16, 2023
Bible Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:10-16 (CEB)
10 Now I encourage you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ: Agree with each other and don’t be divided into rival groups. Instead, be restored with the same mind and the same purpose. 11 My brothers and sisters, Chloe’s people gave me some information about you, that you’re fighting with each other. 12 What I mean is this: that each one of you says, “I belong to Paul,” “I belong to Apollos,” “I belong to Cephas,” “I belong to Christ.” 13 Has Christ been divided? Was Paul crucified for you, or were you baptized in Paul’s name? 14 Thank God that I didn’t baptize any of you, except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so that nobody can say that you were baptized in my name! 16 Oh, I baptized the house of Stephanas too. Otherwise, I don’t know if I baptized anyone else.
What drives us to split into groups, to drive others away because of differences real or imagined? Why do we wall ourselves off to other points of view except that of “our” group? I’m not sure it’s a comfort to know that we’re not alone in this tendency, to remember that since the early years, Christians have been splitting into groups and walling one another off.
Belonging to a group affords security, a sense of safety, and inclusion. There are so many things to fear and so many shapes fear can take: fear of being alone, fear of what is different, fear of being wrong, fear of having to change. When you belong to a group, you can face threats together.
Paul has heard of quarrels among members of the Corinthian church. People are identifying with different leaders: Paul, Apollos, Cephas. He calls the Corinthians back to their primary allegiance by asking, “Has Christ been divided? Was Paul crucified for you?” Of course not; their overarching allegiance is to Christ — Christ who was crucified, Christ is whose name they were baptized. It is Christ’s name with which Paul opens his letter to them: “Now I appeal to you … by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The church is meant to be a group of love — united in Christ across races, nations, denominations, genders, and classes. What is the church if not the family of God brought together by God’s love? So often we allow competing claims and commitments to get in the way of what brings us together. We are all unique, created in the image of God, yet unified in our faith in Jesus who is our salvation and the light of the world.
God, show us the way to unity in you and bring us together. Amen.
By Alina Kanaski, The Upper Room Disciplines 2017, page 37.