I Corinthians 1:10-18 (NRSV)
Verse 10Now I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose. Verse 11For it has been reported to me by Chloe's people that there are quarrels among you, my brothers and sisters. Verse 12What I mean is that each of you says, "I belong to Paul," or "I belong to Apollos," or "I belong to Cephas," or "I belong to Christ." Verse 13Has Christ been divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
Verse 14I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, Verse 15so that no one can say that you were baptized in my name. Verse 16(I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.)
Verse 17For 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. Verse 18For 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.
Things were not going well in the fledgling Corinthian Christian congregation and matters seemed serious enough to occasion a letter from the Apostle Paul. In-fighting and clique-forming were the norm. Factions were splintering the congregation as people claimed allegiance to one leader over another instead of following God’s way in the central message of the gospel of Christ. Paul urges the people to cease their divisions and quarrels and to remember that they were all united by their baptism in the name of Christ. Paul argues that the central message of the gospel is the cross of Christ, and it is through the lens of the cross that Christians are called to regard one another and to treat them accordingly. We are called to do the same. We are all one in Christ being connected to each other through our baptism in Christ’s name.
O God, we are ashamed to admit that even in our own congregations in-fighting and clique-forming exist. Give us courage to see past our divisiveness to embrace the unity we have in you. Guide us in living in your presence. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.