Some things I do as part of our Divinity ministry are more fun than others. I’ve always looked forward to our interactions and sharing of ideas and faith in our adult studies on Monday nights and Wednesday mornings. I’m especially anticipating this spring’s study of 1 Corinthians by Melissa Spoelstra from Dublin, Ohio. We’ll meet for 7 weeks, beginning on April 9/11 and ending on May 21/23. There will be a short video of Melissa teaching in each class followed by discussion questions. The study book can be picked up from Paula for $11.00.
A portion of Melissa’s introduction may help motivate you to join us in class…
“Living love when we disagree sounds good on paper, but it isn’t easy. We’re different—we have different personalities, preferences, and perspectives. And we can struggle to get along, especially when we don’t see eye to eye. In the course of a day, we can find ourselves disagreeing or debating with family, friends, coworkers, and even strangers on social media about everything from food choices and parenting styles to politics and religion. Often we find ourselves divided—even as Christians. How can we work out our differences with humility and grace, always showing the love of Christ, while still remaining true to what we believe?
The Apostle Paul wrote a letter to the church in Corinth about this very thing, because they were struggling with their own set of issues. Being one of the few churches where both Jews and Gentiles worshiped together, they had different practices and ideas that threatened unity in the church. Their economic and social diversity contributed to the discord, giving them a reputation for conflict. Rather than focusing on Christ as head of the body, they formed factions based on various leaders. Worship practices, the role of women, and sensitive issues of conscience were other topics of concern. Paul addressed all of these divisive issues in his letter, which we know today as 1 Corinthians.
Paul urged the church in Corinth to “be of one mind, united in thought and purpose” (1 Corinthians 1:10). He essentially called them to live love—even when they disagreed. Chapter 13, known as the love chapter, wasn’t included to be a nice poem for weddings. Instead, it was written to urge Christians living in a pagan and diverse culture to approach one another with the love of Christ. It calls us to do the same.
Regrettably, we often exercise the opposite of that kind of love, choosing instead to keep a record of wrongs or to make rude comments—whether in person or on social media. The truth is, we can never demonstrate this supernatural love and kindness with those who disagree with us apart from Jesus. Paul acknowledged this truth, mentioning the name of Jesus nine times in the first nine verses of this letter alone! He knew that we desperately need Christ at the center of our personal lives, including our interactions with others. Our unity comes only through Christ and His love.
In the next seven weeks, we will dive deep into Paul’s letter, exploring how we can:
- Deal with our differences in a loving way without compromising our convictions
- Achieve harmony while maintaining our diversity
- Consider the ways that the surrounding culture impacts our beliefs
- Agree to disagree on matters of preference and opinion
- Humbly listen to others with views different than our own
- Embrace ambiguity in some areas, acknowledging that our view is often partial and
- Demonstrate to all that love is the greatest thing, which never fails
Together we will learn some practical truths we can implement in our relationships in order to live love even when we disagree. We will see that Paul’s call to unity isn’t a call to compromise our beliefs. Just as he upheld the gospel of Christ while seeking to help the Corinthians apply it to their relationships, we too will discover how we can stand firm on the gospel while finding and focusing on our common ground in Christ.”
If you’ve never joined a Monday night or Wednesday morning group study, this would be a good one to begin with. You will open yourself to new learning and friendships as we seek to deepen our faith together.
In Christ – Pastor Doug