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. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there are quarrels among you, my brothers and sisters.” (1 Corinthians 1:10 – 11)

We, meaning humanity, like to belong. Moreover, we like to belong and be amongst people who are liked minded. That is, that reflect our perspectives and our values. We organize ourselves into groups, clubs, and institutions that reflect to others, and represent who we are and what we are about. That is not a bad thing, unless we become so firmly entrenched in our own groups and cliques that we dismissed, disregard, and disrespect other people and the groups that they find important in their lives.

“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.” Has Christ been divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one can say that you were baptized in my name. (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.)” (Verses 12 – 16)

Some of the believers in Corinth (according to Paul’s writing you would almost assume it was most everyone) identified themselves by the spiritual fore-bearer who brought them to faith. Speaking as a member of a large group who organized themselves around one dominant voice of faith, it is not a good idea to be so “cliquish”. There are many expressions of Christian faith, and since Paul’s time what he exhorted against have become quite the norm. What would Paul say if he knew that Christianity had evolved to so many facets and flavors. I am reminded especially, as I write this, about the United Methodist Church – a very large Protestant denomination that is looked at a significant splitting in their ranks. The denomination is dividing along/because of, for them, a significant faith issue. The division is happening so that the denomination and the churches within the denomination can survive without imploding.

And again, I cannot point a finger without four others reflecting back on my faith tradition; the Anabaptists divided from their parent faith family on the issue of baptism. I am not sure what Paul would say about that either!

“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.” (Verse 17)

Paul’s message of the gospel was very simple. Christ was the Messiah, the representative of the Divine on earth. He lived, died, and rose from the dead to teach humanity what faith in the Lord God looked like, and to show humanity a way out of sin and death. Paul took from what he heard the other apostles say that Christ commanded and what Paul himself learned from the Divine, and applied that to how one lives out one’s faith. Paul was more about the why than the how. Although he did have plenty to say about how! Most of the time, however, you get the sense that Paul assumed coming to faith would naturally lead to living a Christian life.

“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.” (Verse 18)

The other thing I thought of while I was pondering this passage was political parties. Now there is a group of institutions that definitely takes their lead from those who brought them into what ever “belief” circle that one espouses membership in. And if you do not think that members of political groups believe the leader or “icon” of their political party is the only one who brings “light” – then you obviously do NOT read much social media!

Beloved reader, I would not say we live in “dark times”. Or at least I don’t like to believe we do. Some days it seems though it is hard to find one’s way. I have on my bedside a small battery-powered candle. When the lights of my room are on, it is hard to see its flickering battery-powered flame. But when the lights are out, and I am lying in the darkness thinking over the days events and wondering what tomorrow will bring, that little flickering light comforts me – and reminds me that even if I cannot see the light by which to make my way, the Divine will at the proper time supply one for me. Selah!