Today’s Chocolate: Endangered Species Dark Chocolate with Cacao Nibs
Today’s Passage: 1 Corinthians 1
Welcome back to All The Paul, here on the Paul Channel, your place for the most up-to-date Paul coverage. (From the couch, someone remarks, “This 24/7 Paul Cycle has really gotten out of hand.”) Today we’re taking a second look at the first chapter of 1 Corinthians, because we’re all about making that progress.
Yesterday, I mentioned Paul’s issues with factionalism in the Corinthian church, but I didn’t really get to dig into it. People are siding with one person over another, identifying as disciples of one particular church figure over another instead of affirming their Christian solidarity. Paul asks, “Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” (13) If they’re picking sides, he’ll have none of it. Christianity isn’t about him—it’s about Jesus Christ, who gave himself to restore our broken selves, conquer sin and death, and bring us together as one universal church under his leadership.
In light of this point, Paul’s criticism has an interesting dimension to it. He censures the Corinthians: “[E]ach one of you is saying, ‘I am of Paul,’ and ‘I of Apollos,’ and ‘I of Cephas,’ and ‘I of Christ’” (12). On that last note: why is he criticizing them for identifying with Christ? I’d suggest that it’s because they’re doing it an exclusionary way. Instead of trying to mend the rifts and schisms like Paul is doing, they’re using their allegiance to Christ as a point of superiority: “Oh, you’re a follower of Apollos? Well, I’m a follower of Jesus Christ!” This is the holier-than-thou attitude at its finest, reducing Christian commitment and faith to a contest of who measures up best, an excuse to hypocritically create schisms by looking down on those who create schisms. These are the sort of people who would count the JPMs in their worship songs.
What’s Paul’s point? It’s not about the people. It’s not about what human authority you follow, or trying to elevate yourself over others by being Mr. Pious Church Guy. It’s about the gospel: the good news that Jesus Christ died for sins and was raised on the third day. It’s not about the people, it’s about the Person.