Each of us faces division. In times of conflict it is important to not allow these problems to cloud our judgment and rob us of joy. As easy as it is for us to take offense, retaliate, and justify sticking up for our rights there is a better way. Paul’s letter to the Church in Corinth reveals a better way. Last week we talked about Paul’s ability to exude grace and peace in the midst of conflict. Today we’ll look at his ability to pray for those that cause division.
1 Corinthians 1: 4-9
4 I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, 5 that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge – 6 even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you – 7 so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Paul moves into a personal expression of his love for them. He prays. Prayer is one of the most intimate spiritual disciplines that we can participate in. When we are deep in the grips of conflict prayer can change our perspective. It redirects us to God’s purposes, focuses our attention on serving, and ultimately gets our pride out of the way.
Can you pray for those that frustrate, irritate, or have wrong you?
Below are two specific things that Paul prayed for the Church in Corinth. These specific topics personally connect the audience to Christ’s love and God’s plan to grow biblical community. Christ’s love serves as the foundation for our identity formation. God’s plan to grow biblical community creates an environment for us to explore and grow in wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. These two topics are vitally important when navigating conflict and division.
- Pray for Perspective
Paul prays that they regain their focus on Christ. Differing opinions on religion, relationships, social status, and selfish gain created divisions in the Church of Corinth. These are the same things that divide us. Paul prayed that they fix their eyes on Jesus. We should pray that those we are at odds with begin to know Jesus more. This may come directly from the way we handle conflict. If we can regain a perspective that focuses on Christ and pray that others do the same God will do the rest.
In the middle of conflict do your actions point people to Christ?
- Pray for Biblical Community to Thrive
Paul also reminds them that they are all in this together. It is not their status or beliefs that bind them together, it’s Jesus. His fellowship is what binds them together. Jesus should be what binds us together through good times and bad. When we are divided it is imperative that we keep a clear mind and stay focused on the fact that Jesus is our bond. In the midst of our differences, Jesus. In the midst of being wronged, Jesus. In the midst of betrayal, Jesus. In the midst of loss, Jesus. In the midst of any divisiveness, Jesus.
How can you begin to more fully express grace and peace in the midst of division?