Saturday, December 25, 2010

I Kor. 1 -- the circular firing squad

When my son was a lad, I once had to warn him concerning the younger of two brothers he counted among his friends. The younger boy was a catalyst for trouble. He could direct conversations and interactions in such a way as to embarrass his big brother, and cause the older boy to look bad in the eyes of the adults in the room. He could make intensifying actions and reactions go up the scale, while apparently remaining unaffected himself. Big brother would suddenly find himself humiliated, and not know that had come to pass.

Agatha Christie's final Hercule Perot mystery, Curtains, had such a catalyst as a key element. This party could find and push anyone's hot buttons, and took pleasure in provoking a series of murders.

There is a malevolent spirit on the move, Satan (İblis), the enemy of humanity. Much of his evil work is done by catalyzing fitna or discord among people. A house divided against itself is in danger. Consider the situation in the church at Corinth:
1Co 1:10 Kardeşler, Rabbimiz İsa Mesih'in adıyla yalvarıyorum: Hepiniz uyum içinde olun, aranızda bölünmeler olmadan aynı düşünce ve görüşte birleşin.
1Co 1:11 Kardeşlerim, Kloi'nin ev halkından aranızda çekişmeler olduğunu öğrendim.
1Co 1:12 Şunu demek istiyorum: Her biriniz, "Ben Pavlus yanlısıyım", "Ben Apollos yanlısıyım", "Ben Kefas yanlısıyım" ya da "Ben Mesih yanlısıyım" diyormuş.
1Co 1:13 Mesih bölündü mü? Sizin için çarmıha gerilen Pavlus muydu? Pavlus'un adıyla mı vaftiz* edildiniz?
Apparently, the young community of believers was turning into a "circular firing squad." Instead of community, the group was experiencing factions. Some, probably the more Jewish members, claimed to be on the Kefas (Peter) team. Others followed Apollos, an eloquent, learned, and philosophical believer who still wore the name of a Greek pagan deity. Some claimed to be on Paul's side, and to enjoy the best of both worlds, Jewish and Greek. Finally, others claimed smugly to be above such petty strife, and to belong only to Christ.

How much can we achieve for good if we are united in heart and purpose? We have been given skills and resources that can turn the world into a garden spot, or a desert. The trap of Satan is to provoke dissension, and to thus neutralize the servants of the living God, as they turn their tools against one another rather than to the tasks at hand.

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