For we are God’s servants, working together; you are God’s field, God’s building. 1 Corinthians 3:9
I keep a comic strip in my office (it previously belonged to Sandi Teiken before I printed it out and laminated it for myself). It depicts a haggard group of people in an overturned room, who have clearly been fighting. One person has a chair smashed over their head. Two men lie on the floor. A woman is pulling out her hair. Someone has lost a shoe. Light fixtures are broken, and coffee is spilled on the table.
The sign on the door tells us who these people are, “Church Board,” and the caption at the bottom simply says, “Then it’s settled! We paint the Sunday School room blue!”
Unfortunately, the church has always kind of been like this (not because the church is any worse than other institutions, but because the church is full of imperfect humans!). It’s easy to lose sight of what’s important when we are faced with disagreements. But as Paul reminds us, even when we feel divided, “we are God’s servants, working together” for one common purpose.
We humans love to fight. We can fight over just about anything, even in church, which shouldn’t surprise us. From the beginning the church has fought over one issue or another. On Sunday, we’ll hear Paul writing to the Corinthians to stop bickering about who belongs to Paul versus who belongs to Apollos (a contemporary missionary to Paul).
He asks them to be united “in the same mind and the same purpose” (I Cor 1:10). It’s easier said than done. How do you reconcile honestly held beliefs? How do you get people who harbor anger towards each other to mend fences? How do you forgive wrongs done against you?
It’s difficult work, but Jesus tells us it’s important for our souls! Harboring anger and hatred eats away at us. Jesus tells us that even speaking in anger against another person makes us “liable to the hell of fire.”
I tell my kids all the time, “Don’t keep hate in your heart.” Find a way to forgive, even when it’s not easy. Being a part of a community (be it a church or otherwise) will always come with fights and disagreements. But at the end of the day, all we have is each other, and in the grand scheme of things, that’s what is most important.