What drives us to split into groups, to drive others away
because of differences real or imagined? Why do we wall
ourselves off to other points of view except that of “our” group?
I’m not sure it’s a comfort to know that we’re not alone in this
tendency, to remember that since the early years, Christians have
been splitting into groups and walling one another off.
Belonging to a group affords security, a sense of safety and
inclusion. There are so many things to fear, and so many shapes
fear can take: fear of being alone, fear of what is different, fear
of being wrong, fear of having to change. When you belong to a
group, you can face threats together.
Paul has heard of quarrels among members of the Corinthian
church. People are identifying with different leaders: Paul,
Apollos, Cephas. He calls the Corinthians back to their primary
allegiance by asking, “Has Christ been divided? Was Paul crucified
for you?” Of course not; their overarching allegiance is to
Christ—Christ who was crucified, Christ in whose name they
were baptized. It is Christ’s name with which Paul opens his
letter to them: “Now I appeal to you . . . by the name of our Lord
The church is meant to be a group of love—united in Christ
across races, nations, denominations, genders, and classes. What
is the church if not the family of God brought together by God’s
love? So often we allow competing claims and commitments to
get in the way of what brings us together. We are all unique,
created in the image of God, yet unified in our faith in Jesus
who is our salvation and the light of the world.
God, show us the way to unity in you and bring us together. Amen.
The image of light figures in three of the texts. Light not only illumines but brings a changed situation. The psalmist’s confession links light with salvation. The Gospel lesson expresses deliverance in terms of the nearness of God’s reign, which overcomes diseases and distortions. Light permits well-being. Light is the mode of God’s presence.
• Read Isaiah 9:1-4. When has God called you out of the darkness of an old habit, a familiar circumstance, into the light of new opportunity for ministry?
• Read Psalm 27:1, 4-9. Do you feel more comfortable talking with God about your joys or your pains? Is there need for more openness in either?
• Read 1 Corinthians 1:10-18. In your faith community, when have members found themselves at odds over priorities of no eternal value?
• Read Matthew 4:12-23. Put yourself into the story. What do you hear, see, feel, or smell? How have you answered the call of Jesus?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
View a growing list of resources for the spiritual work of overcoming racism.