Once again there is plenty in today’s readings. “I appeal to you brothers by the name of our Lord that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment” (1 Corinthians 1:10,11). This is essential for those who follow Christ, but in Corinth they were in disarray because they were following individuals. Paul stresses that the only way for believers to be united is to follow Christ. To do that they should possess the “mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16) and Paul set them an example to follow.

“God is faithful”, writes Paul, “by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (1:9). God is faithful to those who say they are committing their lives to Him, and He looks for faithfulness in response. A tragic example of failure is in Exodus 32: so utterly tragic after the people had witnessed overwhelming evidence of the divine presence at Mt. Sinai. There is a lesson that after evidence of the divine presence and blessings, God may put people to the test to prove their faithfulness.

Paul writes about the challenge of “the cross” (verse 18). The message of “the cross is folly to those who are perishing”. The Corinthians had been attracted by the dynamics of the Christian movement and they “are not lacking in any spiritual gift” (1:7). Many in Corinth wanted the experiences the church offered but failed to put their minds to understand that Paul “preached Christ crucified”, a message that was “a stumbling block to the Jews and folly to the Gentiles” (1:23).

Paul’s understanding of God’s objective in his testing is this: “God chose what is low and despised in the world … so that no human being might boast in the presence of God” (1:28,29). Where there is boasting and human ego, believers will never be united. So often in serving Christ, those seeking leadership, or looking for leaders to follow, are elevating men: this attitude destroys unity. Our unity should not be based on human wisdom, but on the wisdom that is from above (read James 3:17,18).

True wisdom is lacking today in material and spiritual things. We must recognise the influence of this on us and Paul’s message to the Corinthians is full of encouragement for them to develop spiritual vision. “No eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).