Ascension Lutheran Church

Calgary, AB

Third Sunday after Epiphany

1 Corinthians 1:10-18

[10] Now I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose. [11] For it has been reported to me by Chloer’s people that there are quarrels among you, my brothers and sisters. [12] What I mean is that each of you says, “I belong to Paul,” or “I belong to Apollos,” or “I belong to Cephas,” or “I belong to Christ.” [13] Has Christ been divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? [14] I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, [15] so that no one can say that you were baptized in my name. [16] (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) [17] For Christ did not send me to baptize but to proclaim the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its power.
[18] For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. The word of the Lord.

January 18-25 is the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, a time when churches of various confessions and denominations will join together for services that focus on what they have in common rather than what divides them. It’s a fine idea and much good has come out of it over the years but we need more than just one week out of the year to focus on Christian unity. We need what St. Paul talks about his letter to the church in Corinth.

The church there was very divided of any number of things—it was almost as if they were looking for reasons to keep apart. But Paul calls them to come together, and in a very specific way—by keeping their focus on Christ. Christians today do something similar when they focus more on those beliefs they hold that are different rather than those they hold in common. That’s not to say the differences are unimportant, but that they become problematic when they are allowed to create harmful divisions between brothers and sisters in Christ. Having a difference of opinion regarding a point of doctrine with another Christian is one thing, but that shouldn’t prevent us from caring for one another, praying for one another, working together or encouraging each other to grow in our knowledge and love of God.