It’s day 7 of the 30 Days of Paul Reading Challenge and we’re on chapters 3 and 4 of 1 Corinthians. So let’s get to it!
Not much has changed from the last chapter. Paul’s still saying that divisions and splits happen between followers of The Way of Jesus because people are unspiritual. That is, if there’s division among them, then they aren’t being led by G-d’s Spirit. I can’t help but have all of the different Christian traditions in the back of my head when I read this. There’s the division between the Roman Way and the Celtic Way. There’s the division between the Roman Way and the Orthodox Way. There’s the division between the Roman Way and the Protestant Way. Then there are the multitude of divisions within Protestantism — Episcopalian, Lutheran, Methodist, Baptist, Assembly of God, Quaker, Church of Christ, Pentecostals, Charismatics, etc. ad nauseam. Of course, these are the “accepted” traditions. There’s no telling how many more were cut off as being heretical that have been lost in the winds of time. And that’s not taking into account the different wisdom traditions of others. I see all of this (and many more besides) and all I can hear is Paul saying that we’re “unspiritual and living by human standards” (3.3); “acting like people without the Spirit” (3.4).
Paul states that there shouldn’t be any division — that we’re all co-workers with G-d. And each of us has a certain job to do. It’s like growing a tomato plant. He says someone plants the seed, another person waters the seed, but G-d makes it grow. Divisions, implies Paul, are like picking which part of the process is more important and making a stand there. But for Paul, it’s the whole process that’s important; it’s each part working together to produce the tomato plant. If just one of the steps are left out, there won’t be any tomatoes to enjoy! When someone says, “I’m Catholic,” or “I’m Baptist,” or “I’m Celtic,” for Paul, those are just different parts of the process and shouldn’t cause divisions among us. What we should be focusing on is our Oneness in Christ (see John 17.20-23).
Paul says something at the end of chapter 4 that I find really fascinating. In verse 20, he wrote, “God’s kingdom isn’t about words but about power.” What do you think Paul’s meaning here? Is he saying something like, “Actions speak louder than words?” Is he talking about experience over and against speaking? Is he referring to relying on the Bible instead of seeking G-d’s action in the world and understanding that those places are where G-d’s Spirit is working? Comment below with your thoughts.
In the Love of the Three in One,
Br. Jack+, LC