The Bible passage for meditation, prayer, and reflection for the week of February 26-March 4, 2017, is 1 Corinthians 1:4-17. Paul begins with a message of thanksgiving. Paul is thankful to know the church of Corinth. Any believer would welcome receiving a message of thanksgiving such as this. Building upon the message of thanksgiving, Paul addresses a troubling issue that has come to his attention, division within the church.
I thank my God always for you because of the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, so that in everything you were [exceedingly] enriched in Him, in all speech [empowered by the spiritual gifts] and in all knowledge [with insight into the faith]. In this way our testimony about Christ was confirmed and established in you, so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift [which comes from the Holy Spirit], as you eagerly wait [with confident trust] for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ [when He returns]. And He will also confirm you to the end [keeping you strong and free of any accusation, so that you will be] blameless and beyond reproach in the day [of the return] of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful [He is reliable, trustworthy and ever true to His promise—He can be depended on], and through Him you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
But I urge you, believers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in full agreement in what you say, and that there be no divisions or factions among you, but that you be perfectly united in your way of thinking and in your judgment [about matters of the faith]. For I have been informed about you, my brothers and sisters, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are quarrels and factions among you. Now I mean this, that each one of you says, “I am [a disciple] of Paul,” or “I am [a disciple] of Apollos,” or “I am [a disciple] of Cephas (Peter),” or “I am [a disciple] of Christ.” Has Christ been divided [into different parts]? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized into the name of Paul? [Certainly not!] I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one would say that you were baptized into my name. Now I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know if I baptized anyone else. For Christ did not send me [as an apostle] to baptize, but [commissioned and empowered me] to preach the good news [of salvation]—not with clever and eloquent speech [as an orator], so that the cross of Christ would not be made ineffective [deprived of its saving power]. (1 Corinthians 1:4-17, AMP)
There once was a small, local church. Its members were like a family. They diligently studied and taught from Bible, letting it be their guide in all that they did. The members grew their spiritual gifts, and used those gifts to expand the church, to reach into the community and share the Word of God with more and more individuals. The church grew until it had thousands of members, with a variety of different spiritual gifts to contribute to and administer their different programs. But something happened, the members of the church began fighting amongst themselves about who should lead programs and how money should be spent. The Bible was no longer their guide in all that they did. The church fractured, until it was a shadow of what it once was. Unfortunately, this story is all to common. It is also far from a new occurrence. Paul recognized that if he did not act, a fracture could and would happen to the church in Corinth.
Baptist. Catholic. Lutheran. Nondenominational. Orthodox. Evangelicals. We may differ on meanings of Biblical passages. We may not agree on how to structure a worship service. But we all believe in that the Lord Jesus Christ died for our sins, defeated death on the third day, and rose again. We are united in our faith. This week, we ask that you pray for Christian unity. As you mediate on, pray over, and reflect upon this week’s passage, consider who or what is leading your life.