Factions for Fractions (2017-0122)

. 3 min read

Jan 2017, Christ Mountain Top
Creed (call to worship)
1.43-51 (kids)
Corinthians 1.10-18 (message)
fusion restaurant in DC last week:
      Korean, Japanese, Thai menu items
      Jewish Mezzuzah on the doorpost, with the
Shema prayer
week, in a conflicted situation, Paul focused on
      Jesus as Lord – no matter what side of the
      God as faithful – not dependent on me or
my authority
he was able to genuinely give thanks for his brothers and sisters in Corinth.
week, in the next few verses, Paul begins to address the conflict. Notice,
however, that he still does not bring up – at least not directly – the conflict
between him and the church as a whole. No, instead he points out the conflict
they are having with each other. There is nothing Paul says with which they
could disagree. There are quarrels over lots of nonsense, including their
favorite preachers and who baptized them. Paul trots out his baptism record in Corinth, then
remembers he left a couple folks out of the original list. I say all the time,
“I always forget something in a list.”
      There’s genius to Paul’s approach:
Indirect approach to the conflict between Paul & Corinth
Multiple conflicts prevent complete polarization (if they
were all on the same side, they could team up against Paul)
      Paul is also deadly serious, immediately
theological, and desirous of what only God can do – change hearts. If Corinth
continues to focus on their factions – Paul, Apollos, Cephas (Peter), and
Christ (!) – they will only divide into fractions. And the fractions and
factions will just gobble each other up.
History of the Peloponnesian War

      Nicene Creed, filioque
sexuality & UMC
      Will we go from United Methodist Church to
Untied …?
      Bishop’s summits on human sexuality –
factions are more local
·       The
people we won’t talk to, the people we avoid
·       Walking
on egg shells
·       Those
at whom we raise our voices
·       Those
whom we just don’t believe
conflict has a familiar structure
·       No
matter the starting place of the conversation (a trip to the hardware store or
the kids’ bus schedule), it always ends in the same place (you always …!)
·       Fueled
by the rumor-mill (gossip free zone!)
·       Working
together (whether sports team, workplace, family) is undermined or eliminated
Paul does not address any of the practical conflict-limiting techniques. He
does not talk about
·       Avoiding
escalation by interruption
·       Eliminating
reference to the past
·       Use
of less-intimidating “I” statements … “I heard”, “I feel”
doesn’t focus on the technical because they aren’t even interested in reducing
conflict, because they have forgotten whatever reasons they once had to be one
church. So, instead of getting all technical, he gets all theological.
      Like the ancient Greeks city states, they
have forgotten their common purpose, their shared mission and have focused
entirely on factions for fractions. Like the ancient Greeks, they are setting
themselves up for destruction.
      He reminds them of their purpose, because
it is Paul’s purpose: 1 Corinthians 1:17-18  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.
      Our purpose is the gospel, making more
disciples of Jesus Christ, and that with no frills attached.  That gospel, that message, is the message of
the cross.
gift of Philip, who tells Nathanael, John 1:45  “We have found him about whom Moses in the law
and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.”
      Chrysostom: “For the expression ‘we have
found’ belongs always to those who are in some way seeking” (ACCS, John 1-10, NT IVa, Downers Grove,
IL: InterVarsity Press, 2006, p 83).
      Philip recognizes the gospel in Jesus, and
without full realization, the sign of the cross that he both bears and is.
so often we fail to recognize the sign of the cross over one another as
brothers and sisters, despite our differences. So often we fail to bless one
another with the Peace of Christ. And, aside from the sign of the cross in
others who believe in Jesus, we also manage to miss the image of God in every
human being, whether believing in Jesus or not.
      Turf war over Church of the Holy Sepulcher
– the traditional site of the crucifixion and death of Jesus!
our common purpose – mission, gospel

the sign of the cross in brothers and sisters