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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Friday, January 24, 2020  

Today’s Scripture Reading | 1 Corinthians 1:10–18

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)

“That all of you should be in agreement and that there should be no divisions among you”—can we even imagine that as a possibility? I am writing this devotional in the beginning of December as the Speaker of the House just announced that House Democrats were proceeding with articles of impeachment. And though I do not know what will happen in the corridors of Congress over the next couple of months, one thing I do know is that few people will be in agreement and our political and ideological divisions will likely be deep and wide. What breaks my heart, though, is not that we will undoubtedly have serious disagreements over whatever happens with both neighbor and stranger alike, but more than likely, the way we will deal with those serious disagreements will further erode the communities of which we are a part.

The Corinthians church community was in danger of eroding. Different members were lining up behind different preachers—Apollos, Cephas, Paul. Factionalism was setting in. And in the anger that resides underneath this text we can sense those divisions were breaking Paul’s heart. “Has Christ been divided?” he asks, nay, demands.

But then he makes a quick turn to the cross. That’s interesting. He doesn’t try to convince them why their unity is important. Rather, he simply points to the cross and proclaims its power. Why? Perhaps because Paul wanted to remind us that whereas we tend to be driven primarily by the currency of power, Jesus was solely driven by the currency of Love. And as Christians, that is our call too, even across the deepest and widest divisions we can imagine. Jesus expects it.

Gracious Lord, may I think before I speak. And may I seek to be a healing presence rather than a divisive one. Build us up so that we can continue to try and build up your love in our world. Amen.

Written by Shannon J. Kershner, Pastor

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