Devotional/Reflection: I am a huge baseball fan. I remember a time in high school when I could name the starting lineup (and many of the backups) for every team in major league baseball. If you had a question about statistics or rules, I could answer it. And if you talked to me for more than ten minutes, it was almost certain baseball would come up in the conversation. We talk about what we love. My wife and my kids occupy a much greater portion of my conversation material these days, but more and more I hope my conversations are constantly saturated with and indicative of my love for Jesus. Paul’s certainly was. In the first nine verses, Paul mentions Jesus eight times! Jesus is the one who brings together our past (who we were), our present (who we are), and our future (who God will one day shape us to be). But after giving thanks for God’s work in the lives of the individuals in the Corinthian church, he addresses a huge issue dividing the church: they were divided over who had taught them or brought them to faith, rather than united in Christ on account of the gospel. Paul, in strong language (“is Christ cut up into little pieces”), tells them that he wasn’t sent to baptize, or even to proclaim the gospel with lofty words, but rather that he came to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, the one through whom we are saved and in whom we find our unity and identity. Not only is division among believers foolish, it is evil, and it provides those outside the church with good reason for wanting nothing to do with God’s people. Moreover, division rejects on of God’s most gracious gifts, the visible fellowship of fellow believers. Such a fellowship is not guaranteed. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer reminds us in his classic work Life Together, there are those who are sick, isolated, and/or persecuted who cannot enjoy such fellowship. Rather than dividing over foolish trivialities, we should rather see the opportunity to meet together in visible fellowship as a joyous gift of grace, centered on our savior Jesus Christ in whom we are united as one people of God.
- What are some of the things that you spend your time talking about? Is your relationship with Jesus one that you frequently bring up?
- What has been your experience with the church? Have you experienced division? If so, what was it about and how, if at all, was it resolved?
- How have you experienced the blessing of visible fellowship?
- Are you currently committed to a local church and/or a Christ-centered community?
Scripture Memory: “I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.”–1 Corinthians 1:10