1 Corinthians 3:3 You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans?
Ouch. Zing! Just in case any of us thought we were obeying all the little Bible rules and are therefore somehow better than the next guy…guess what? You’re not. I’m not. None of us are.
In this installment (number 37 by my count) of God’s lesson entitled “Everybody Stinks”, I read today in 1 Corinthians about people quarrelling, fighting and generally being divided over who’s following the right rules. The people of Corinth were taking issue with each other over which church leader their neighbors were following – who was better. Like somehow it actually mattered – that it was a big enough deal for them to be separated because of it. And Paul sets them straight, without any sugar-coating. I think I would have liked Paul.
Pretty much, I loved all the first three chapters of 1 Corinthians today. Loved every one. How we shouldn’t be divided (1:10). That God chooses people who seem like the last ones on Earth that should be picked – the lowly, the despised (1:28-29). That God at his dumbest, is smarter than the most brilliant person (1:25). And finally, that no matter what we think we’re doing right, no matter how great our doctrine or leader is, we’re all still just worldly humans (3:3).
How can I pump myself up and think I’m somehow being super Godly if I nitpick and fight with fellow believers? The two just don’t mesh. Actually, the few verses at the beginning of chapter 3 seem to say that as Christians, it’s a super basic thing to just get along and love each other. Paul calls this principle milk (like the breastfeeding kind) – that we aren’t ready for deeper spiritual growth (solid food) because we haven’t figured out how to not fight amongst ourselves.
I’m really quite twisted around about this. I mean really. If I truly listen to what God’s telling me here, I will make it my first priority to just love my brothers and sisters. Cause I’m no better than the most foolish, weak, pitiful person out there. I needed the Lord’s mercy and grace just like everyone else. And, until I can grasp peace and forgiveness (the hallmarks of getting along), I’m still worldly. I’m still acting just like a human would. Actions speak louder (by far) than words. And worldly is as worldly does. You don’t get to remove the “worldly” label by somehow shielding yourself from the world. By not drinking, or swearing or gambling. That distinction sticks with you thru how you treat others too. Jealously and quarrelling are signs of deeper issues – ungratefulness, pride, self-righteousness. Those things are straight up of the world, not of Christ.
I know that none of us can be perfect. Not even close to it. Maybe if I just focus on the baby food stuff of accepting others for where they are, not bickering or fighting about it, God will let me know when I’m ready for more solid food. I’ll know because the division in relationships in my life will be sorted out. There will be peace and understanding. I’m positive having that kind of calm in my life will make digesting sturdier fare far easier.