Key verse: 1 Corinthians 1:13Big Idea: There is no room for factions at the cross.
The Corinthians were a people obsessed with prestige. Teachers competed to see who could gain the largest following and like modern politicians, the specialized in saying very little with many eloquent words. This tone leaked into the church there, and sub-groups began to form. Some identified themselves as the disciples of Paul, who had planted the church on one of his missionary journeys. Others were Apollos people, who had come behind Paul to strengthen and mature the church. The list went on, but the point is obvious: whenever that kind of obsession takes root, being on the winning team becomes everything. Any issue that came up was filtered through their party allegiance, and the church was deeply divided.
When Paul heard about this situation, he was mortified. If they had all been bought by one Jesus, how could His body on earth be splintered into so many pieces? They might be theologically correct in their words, but their behavior was a denial of the gospel. No people defined by the shame of a cross could be so obsessed with their own rank and reputation. Rather than try to develop factions for themselves, with words of wisdom and eloquence, they should have been preaching the simple message of the cross.
Certainly, it was not a message designed to gain a great following. To the Greeks, it was pure foolishness to think that the way to God could be humility. For the Jews, it was an affront to think God’s messiah would be displayed through death and not through military triumph. But, Paul insisted, for those who respond to God’s Spirit, the cross is recognized as the most precious thing of all. It is the power of God, given to us through a way which the world could never recognize.
If we can remember that at the heart of our faith is no compelling sales pitch, but a simple message of forgiveness through faith in the cross, we will find ourselves humbled and ready to serve God and one another. If we allow the world’s obsession with status to contaminate our faith, we will find that when you add pride to the gospel, you end up with nothing. When we add nothing to the cross, we discover Jesus has already given us everything.
Discussion idea:Why are people so concerned about what others think? How is the gospel incompatible with trying to impress others?
Prayer focus: Ask God to help you have the confidence in Him that you will not try to add to what He has given, and thank Him that in the humility of the cross, He has rescued us from our own foolish pride.