Trouble With Factions
No, this post is not about mathematics or “trouble with fractions”. I remember having trouble with fractions when I was, I believe, in the 3rd grade. I just didn’t understand that whole “find the common denominator” thing…I mean who can even say “denominator” in 3rd grade? That’s not what this post is about. 1 Corinthians 11 continues with Paul’s effort to deal with some of the issues in the church in the city of Corinth. The beginning part of the chapter focuses on the wearing of head coverings by women. If you want to talk about this please message me. It’s an interesting discussion but not one I have time to talk about here. I’m moving to the second part of the chapter and Paul’s discussion about “factions” in the church. Here is what he writes: 17 Now in giving these instructions I do not praise you, since you come together not for the better but for the worse. 18 For first of all, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it. 19 For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you.
If you remember we started 1 Corinthians with a warning from Paul about people arguing over who was baptized by whom and how silly that was. This was dividing the church into factions, different groups. Churches still struggle with this today. Often, when people get upset they just leave…stop attending…find another church…or they just remain in the church and form people around them who are just like them…refusing to engage with others who are different. In the case of Corinth it appears there were many factions. Now, I don’t think we can ever get this completely right. We are all sinners. We are all selfish. Often, we all think we are “right” about something. But division is not the answer. Rather, we are called to “multiplication” in the church as we share the gospel of Jesus Christ with others. I believe that in most cases, a church can have some disagreement without having division. Division isn’t inevitable though disagreement is. If we keep the “main thing” the “main thing” then we are less likely to suffer from division. Focusing on the things that we have in common, love for Jesus, service, love for one another, the spreading of the gospel. etc…will help with factions and fractions. They are inevitable to some extent, but honest conversation and a willingness to pull toward the same goals will help. I’m pretty sure God’s favorite math operation is multiplication, definitely not division.