One evening a friend of mine told me abouta couple who had gone to court to get a divorce. Their conflict was political, and it made their lives unbearable. Each one followed a different political party, but this, in and of itself, was not the problem. The problem was that both of them were fanatics and very much convinced of the ideals of their political party. Each of them was determined to show that the other person was wrong and that they themselves were right. Their debates were very intense, and eventually led to their divorce. I wondered, "why did this couple only consider their political disagreements and totally ignore the elements of their unity? Was there not something more important that they could agree on?
In the verses quoted above, Paul discusses a problem that has fanaticism and extremism at its roots.
There are two sides, an argument, and a result of the argument. The two sides addressed by Paul show the first featuresof fanaticismby using the word "I." I suspect if we overheard a conversation between a couple getting a divorce, we would find that most of their sentences would begin with "I": "I am right, I am so and so…." The reason for their argument is not hard to find. Both the couple and the two opposing sides in Corinth share the same attitude that leads to argument. In Corinth it involved following a certain person: "I follow Paul," "I follow Apollos," "I belong such and such party."
The consequences of such arguments are always the same. In the case of the couple, it was separation. Paul also perceived an upcoming separation within the church. He called on everyone to base themselves on Jesus Christ, who is above all disagreements.
Our responsibility as Christians today is to put our disagreements aside, and to lift our eyes to Jesus Christ, in whom we find the secret to our unity. Furthermore, we should not let our minds overflow with fanaticism and ignorance, expressing zealous loyalty to anything or anyone other than Jesus. Rather, we should start planting the seeds of love and accepting others in our hearts, allowing the rivers of heaven to water those seeds, so that a healthy "we" may grow in place of "I."
- 21 JUNE -