Audio clip and bulletin notes for a sermon preached at Morden Mennonite on Jan. 22, 2017, in a series called “Jesus: Our Church’s One Foundation.”
This sermon continues our reflection on Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians through the story of Gaia, a fictional woman in first-century Corinth. In this sermon we learn about the divisions that plagued the Corinthian church and hear the first words of Paul’s response (1 Corinthians 1:10-18).
Audio: “Jesus is Not Divided”
- The church in Corinth was a church divided over sexuality and marriage, spirituality and worship. There were factions within the church, each with its favourite theology and preferred leaders. Underneath all this were questions over how to faithfully follow Jesus within a diverse and changing culture.
- In part the divisions in Corinth were caused by an exclusive devotion to celebrity Christian leaders. ““I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” [that is, Peter,] or “I follow Christ” (1 Cor 1:12).
- In part the divisions in Corinth were caused by a narrow focus on one’s preferred way of thinking about Christian faith and life. Some emphasized their “freedom” in Christ, not being bound by rules, while others emphasized their abstinence from worldly pleasures. Some emphasized their “wisdom” and boasted in their knowledge, while others emphasized their direct personal connection with God, communing with Christ through special spiritual experiences.
- In 1 Cor 1:13 Paul asks a rhetorical question: “Is Christ divided?” The obvious answer is “No, of course not!” Jesus is not divided: he is for all people, and he works by his Spirit through many diverse people with many different abilities and temperaments, backgrounds and experiences and perspectives. As Paul says later in the letter: “All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all belong to you, and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God” (1 Cor 3:21-23).
Questions to Ponder:
- In the wider church, or here at MMC, or in my own life, how do I see “an exclusive devotion to celebrity Christian leaders”? or “a narrow focus on a preferred way of thinking about Christian faith and life”?
- How do I think about what it means to be a Christian? What specific things am I doing to broaden my understanding of this?