Scripture: 1 Corinthians 12:1-11
Key verse: (3) Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says ‘Let Jesus be cursed!’ and no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit.
Reflection: The Christians in Corinth were embroiled in conflict. They were arguing about who was “in” and who was “out.” They were trying to prove who was more important in the life of their community (which of course implies somebody else is less important). They were caught in disagreements about what faithfulness looked like. They were turning against one another in a divisive environment. Sound familiar? Maybe that’s true in your church or in your office or in your classroom or in our nation or our culture.
Paul wrote a letter that addressed some of those issues, trying to pull them together around the good news of Jesus Christ. In the key verse above Paul gives them a definitive test to determine who is in and who is out. Who is speaking by the Spirit? Paul says those speaking by the Spirit will NOT say “Let Jesus be cursed” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Spirit. I wish I had been in Corinth when they read this letter aloud in worship. I imagine the believers looked bewildered and glanced from side to side at one another, thinking “but we all say ‘Jesus is Lord’ and no one here says ‘Let Jesus be cursed.’” Exactly! So you are quibbling about small differences but you fail to recognize that you are all included in the community. You are all important. You all have gifts to share. No one is left out. No one is dispensable. You have let minor things divide you and you have missed the power of the Holy Spirit that is in work in every one of you there.
The good news is pretty simple – you are loved, you are forgiven, you are claimed and called by God. What if you take Paul’s wisdom and focus on the unity you have with all sorts of faithful people? What if you let Jesus handle judgment and let go of that divisive work? I believe this is an invitation to spiritual maturity, drawing us closer to God. Give thanks for the grace of God that has been poured out on us all. Give thanks for the gifts of those around you, even those folks who are difficult or who hold very different opinions. Find contentment by simplifying your spiritual life. Focus on the majors that draw us together rather than the minors that divide us.
Prayer: O God, you have given your Holy Spirit to us. Help me see your gifts at work in those around me. Knit me into community with those who differ from me so that we are a stronger witness to your grace and love. Through Christ I pray. Amen.
Author: Millie Snyder
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].