Have you ever met a stranger and you struggle to come up with meaningful conversation? The awkward silence and pending social catastrophe can be too much to bear. Will they like me? Will I say something silly? Does my breath smell ok? Yes, I know I am being slightly dramatic, but I think you catch my drift.
Some of us overcome this fear by prying deeper, while others leave the fleeting initial interaction happy with shallow small talk. Either way, there looms a point where you have to decide if the conversation is worth having. Do I really want to know this person, or am I just going through the simple pleasantries?
Meeting new people can be hard, and finding common ground can prove more difficult.
If you press through, at some point you’ll discover the spark, the passion, that thing, and the conversation takes on a new trajectory. It’s as if the moment of mutual discovery was a gift, and the genesis for a new-found friendship.
“I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose.” 1 Corinthians 1:10 NLT
As Paul begins to establish the church in Corinth, we come across this verse, in a series of foundational and unifying statements. He encourages the Corinthians believers to be “unified in thought and purpose”. Paul knows these believers come from many different walks of life, have been taught by different teachers, and are in the early stages of their faith.
So what is it that unifies them? Is it worth saying? Will they even understand?
To that end I graciously submit a simple truth in a complex time. That simple, unifying truth is this: Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
That may seem too simple to be impactful, but let’s dig a little deeper. For these believers in Corinth, this simple truth seemed to elude them regularly. They argued over who was the best teacher of this truth. They consistently reverted to the deceptive and destructive secular culture trying to sabotage this truth. They publicly quarreled over the most trivial things, and for whatever reason seemed to forget that Christ is the reason they found themselves together in the first place. Paul swiftly and intently reminds them to keep Christ at the center by standing on his apostolic authority given by the aforementioned Man.
I am particularly challenged, especially since isolation is a path easily taken. The difficulty of navigating disagreement seems too strenuous and the divisive political climate is tumultuous to say the least. It just seems so much easier to keep my faith to myself, ironically when most of my disagreements have been with people who read the same Bible I do. My mind is constantly filled with thoughts of acceptance and rejection, agreement and disagreement, peace and strife, right and wrong. I am so busy getting caught up in complex insecurities and fears, I forget this most simple truth and its invitation to relationship.
Like the Corinthian church, we are at that precipice of decision in navigating a time where faith and unity seem out of place. Sometimes we forget what our “yes” to Jesus actually means. We all share this common thread; that faith which began with Jesus. His life and death bring us new life, and we are now the righteousness of God and joint heirs with Christ. When we said “yes” to Jesus, our common ground was established, and the beauty of this discovery is the foundation for something much more impactful: Discipleship.
Bryant Stokes is currently the Manassas Campus Worship Director. Something he wouldn’t trade for the world. If there is one thing you should know about him. He loves Jesus and fresh baked chocolate chip cookies!
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