As we prepare materials for the 2019 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, we look back to a previous year and ask ‘Is Christ divided’? Our resources for 2014 were based around Paul’s provocative question in 1 Corinthians, ‘Has Christ been divided?’ In faith we respond, ‘No!’ yet our church communities continue to endure divisions. 1 Corinthians also points us to a way in which we can value and receive the gifts of others even now in the midst of our divisions, and that is an encouragement to us in our work for unity.
The Messiah’s manifesto is surely ours: a gospel of glorious goodness; vulnerable love in courageous and creative action; consigning dispiriting denominational division to an unrepeatable past. Click To Tweet
Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes,
To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind— just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you— so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Divisions in the Church
Now I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you should be in agreement and that there should be no divisions among you, but that you should 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: 1-17 (NRSV)
It is all about good news for the poor
not impoverishing aspiration;
it is all about release for captives,
not binding by rules;
it is all about sight for the blinded,
not making more wounded;
it is all about freeing oppressed
not crushing more spirits.
The Messiah’s manifesto
is surely ours:
a gospel of glorious goodness;
in courageous and creative action;
to an unrepeatable past.