This Sunday was the second week in our sermon series A House United. In this series, we are looking at the root causes of division to see how the church can be united as one body of Christ.
The Corinthian church really wanted to be spiritually mature, and they thought they were more wise and mature than they actually were. The Corinthian church started dividing into factions because of their differing views of who Jesus was and how they should follow him. Paul, however, saw their rival groups as doing more harm than good. He compared them to infants in Christ, saying that he can only feed them with spiritual milk and not solid food. Paul raises some challenging questions- when jealousy and fighting exist between you, aren’t you unspiritual and living by human standards? Aren’t you acting like people without the Spirit? For Paul, the mark of spiritual maturity is unity.
John 14:17 states, “The Spirit abides with you and he will be in you.” The Holy Spirit is with us and in us by God’s grace. When we lean into the Holy Spirit, God leads us to walk in the way of peace, understanding, and unity. Unity does not mean we will all have the same opinions or agree on everything. In fact, conflict can be a gift to us by helping us learn from people with different perspectives than us. Conflict only goes sour when it breaks us apart from our goal of unity, and when it gets to the point where we are putting another down and failing to recognize the other person as a beloved child of God. Egos must be checked at the door of the church to help against division.
The presence of gossip, complaining, and ridicule are signs that we may not be fully converted to Christ. Membership in the church means renouncing our privileges. We discover in the scripture reading that Paul and Apollos are just laborers and servants who are doing what God has called them to do. Spiritual maturity is being open to the Holy Spirit to unify us. In dealing with conflict and disagreement, we must remember to let the God in you speak to the God in the other person. Don’t respond in the flesh, which breeds anger, jealousy, and shame; rather, let the Spirit speak in and through you. We are spiritually mature when we open ourselves to the Spirit in such a way that in the midst of disagreements, we still come together as brothers and sisters in Christ. While the flesh divides us, the Spirit unites us.
Monday- 1 Corinthians 3:10-23
Tuesday- 1 Corinthians 4:1-13
Wednesday- 1 Corinthians 4:14-21
Thursday-1 Corinthians 5:1-13
Friday- 1 Corinthians 6:1-11
Questions to Consider and Discuss:
1. What problems tend to cause strife in your home? Work? Community?
2. How can conflict be a gift to us? How can conflict be harmful to us?
3. Why do you think Paul says that unity is a sign of spiritual maturity?