Saturday, April 30, 2016

Living the gospel



Daily reading: 1 Corinthians 1:10-18
Saturday April 30, 2016

Focus passage: Christ didn’t send me to baptize but to preach the good news.  And Christ didn’t send me to preach the good news with clever words so that Christ’s cross won’t be emptied of its meaning.  The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are being destroyed.  But it is the power of God for those of us who are being saved.  1 Corinthians 1:17-18

The church is a remarkable social experiment where we practice diversity because our focus in on Christ who dwells in each of us and the unity we share does not insist upon uniformity.

Paul spoke infrequently about baptism in his letters, but he does here to remind the congregation of the new life that his possible in the baptismal waters, it is the one central claim that we all share.
Speaking of new life and imagining new growth is life giving and Paul is beckoning the community back to their purpose. 

The gospel is so compelling, so life giving and we all are given the opportunity to live it and to share it.  We are all invited and included in the community of faith where together we embody the presence of Christ in ways that bring life to us all.  

Prayer: God, in the places in the world where I find division, help me to be a bridge builder. In the places in my life where I find division, help me to see the fundamentals of unity and allow the things that are not essential to fall away. Amen.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Stretching our Boundaries



Daily reading: 1 Corinthians 1:10-18
Friday April 29, 2016

Focus passage: Christ didn’t send me to baptize but to preach the good news.  And Christ didn’t send me to preach the good news with clever words so that Christ’s cross won’t be emptied of its meaning.  The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are being destroyed.  But it is the power of God for those of us who are being saved.  1 Corinthians 1:17-18

Hospitality, Christian formation, and unity are impossible dreams when we lock up and insist on not sharing with one another.  And it happens in more abstract ways when we insist on controlling other aspects of our shared ministry and community life.

Being part of the body of Christ means that we have to stretch our boundaries.  Celebrating diversity takes us out of our comfort zones and often times breeds insecurity.  

We may find that we value sameness, because it is safe and certain.  But when we welcome in those who are different than we are, that come from different congregations, or who have never been part of a congregation, who have different gifts and talents than we personally do, who see a way of embodying community in a new way, we are called to be flexible and to change.  We are called always to see the unity that comes from following Christ.

Prayer: God, in the places in the world where I find division, help me to be a bridge builder. In the places in my life where I find division, help me to see the fundamentals of unity and allow the things that are not essential to fall away. Amen.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Unity



Daily reading: 1 Corinthians 1:10-18
Thursday April 28, 2016

Focus passage: Christ didn’t send me to baptize but to preach the good news.  And Christ didn’t send me to preach the good news with clever words so that Christ’s cross won’t be emptied of its meaning.  The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are being destroyed.  But it is the power of God for those of us who are being saved.  1 Corinthians 1:17-18

Nobody ever said that follow Jesus would be easy.  Picking up our own cross to follow isn’t easy.  We don’t just follow Jesus in our pass time, following Jesus isn’t something we volunteer to do, it is part of our call, it is about living out our call every waking moment of our day.  And that is what makes it even more painful when there are divisions, because we are so invested in the church of Christ.

Everything that we do says something about our understanding of God in community.  In the letter, Paul then makes a theological context for the real world problems and divisions they are facing.  For the sake of community, uniformity cannot be a goal but rather unity. 

Prayer: God, in the places in the world where I find division, help me to be a bridge builder. In the places in my life where I find division, help me to see the fundamentals of unity and allow the things that are not essential to fall away. Amen.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The messenger and the message



Daily reading: 1 Corinthians 1:10-18
Wednesday April 27, 2016

Focus passage: Thank God that I didn’t baptize any of you, except Crispus and Gaius, so that nobody can say that you were baptized in my name!  1 Corinthians 1:14-15

Rather than feel some sense of pride that they remember him and his contribution, Paul really plays it off, yes he baptized some, and sort of rambles on a foggy memory of who he plunged into the baptismal waters, emphasizing the perspective he holds.  He didn’t baptize them into a community that was based on his leadership, he baptized them into the community of Christ.

To bring the point home he asks “Was Paul crucified for you, or were you baptized in Paul’s name?”  Of course we know the answer is no.
What has happened is that the community was confusing the messenger with the message.  

Tunnel vision or stubbornness had set in.  Perhaps it was an ugly word spoken at a fellowship meal, or perhaps someone’s voice wasn’t heard in a meeting, or perhaps someone was left out of the circle of communication.  Regardless of what started the tension, things got out of hand.  As we will move through this letter, we will see Paul attempting to heal one grievance after another.

Pettiness and division consumed them.  In the midst of it all Paul must have wondered, how the brilliant light of Christ could have been extinguished.   

Prayer: God, in the places in the world where I find division, help me to be a bridge builder. In the places in my life where I find division, help me to see the fundamentals of unity and allow the things that are not essential to fall away. Amen.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Disunity



Daily reading: 1 Corinthians 1:10-18
Tuesday April 26, 2016

Focus passage: 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.”  Has Christ been divided?  Was Paul crucified for you, or were you baptized in Paul’s name? 1 Corinthians 1:12-13

Corinth was a port city that was originally created as a colony for freed slaves.  It was a town of diversity.  With its location on the water, it was a trade city and also the capital city of Achaica.  Paul founded the Christian community in Corinth, which was most likely as diverse as the inhabitants of the city.  It really then shouldn’t be surprised to us that such a young church is facing the reality of division.  

Paul was called to proclaim the gospel to Gentiles and the communities he formed were a mixture of Jews and Gentiles.  That combination of two distinct religious cultures proved to be challenging.

Disunity seems to be rampant in the church in Corinth.  The unity that had brought them together to form a community of faith quickly dissolved.

What we see is allegiance to certain preachers in their community.  Paul acknowledges that he along with many others have preached and baptized members.  And so in their disunity they begin to claim that they belong to the leader they follow.  “I belong to Paul” or “I belong to Apollos” or “I belong to Cephas” … “I belong to Christ.”

These sort of factions happen in congregations, we take sides and lose our focus on Christ and his call for us to set aside the things that cause division so we can focus on the essentials that bind us together.  

Prayer: God, in the places in the world where I find division, help me to be a bridge builder. In the places in my life where I find division, help me to see the fundamentals of unity and allow the things that are not essential to fall away. Amen.

Waiting

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