Christopher B. Harbin
1st Corinthians 3:5-15
Who am I? It is one of the most basic questions of human existence. Who am I? Who are you? What defines our relationship? In my high school literature classes, the questions were always the same: Who are we? Whence came we? and Whither go we? These were deemed the central questions of literature. We were to define how the various authors raised and answered these basic questions.
On another level, relationships are built upon social expectations flowing from these same questions of identity. In Yann Martel's book, Life of Pi, he discusses social order concerns based on these same questions within the Animal Kingdom. These concerns pertain to life beyond just human society. Who am I? Who are we? How should we view and interact with one another? The concern is not only personal identity, but identity in relation to others. Paul addresses these issues in Corinth.
Those believers were fractured over identity, status, and social posturing. They claimed social distinctions from relationships with specific leaders, but Paul calls their bluff on that count. That does not mean they did not have their disagreements over all sorts of issues. He simply says there is no value in following one or another personality, regardless of who that individual might be.
True, the Corinthian divisions were multi-faceted. They were divided over who was holier, who was more spiritual, who was stronger, who was wiser, who exhibited the showier spiritual gifts, who followed whom, who had baptized whom, and even questions of material wealth and social standing beyond the church. If there an issue might divide a church, it was in play at Corinth. There were even those who claimed to be so spiritual they were above living by any code of moral conduct. They claimed freedom from any restraint in order that God's grace might overflow more fully in their lives.
At heart, however, all these issues all bo ...
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