I once knew a man with a 1942 Indian motorcycle—an antique beauty of industrial design. He was invited to bring his motorcycle to a Vogue photo shoot in a stately home, on a gorgeous oriental rug. The nervous homeowner asked, “It doesn’t leak does it?” Without batting an eye, the man with the motorcycle answered, “Lady, if it ain’t leaking, it ain’t running.”
I want to answer this Sunday’s text with that one-liner. “If it ain’t fighting, it ain’t church.”
Church doctrine is built on fights. Consider the history of the Nicene creed, written to answer whether God the Son was co-eternal and of the same substance as God the Father, or whether, as Arius believed, that God the Son came after God the Father in time and substance. Legend has it that Arius was slapped in the face at the council meeting in Nicaea!
We all know that churches fight. Some fighting is constructive, but in today’s church, much of it is destructive. Toxic, even.
So when Paul tells us, in 1 Corinthians 1:10-18, “be united in the same mind and the same purpose,” it makes me wonder about church in Paul’s time. Did Paul actually think unity was possible?
So how do we live with divided minds, divided people, people with divergent purposes, and seemingly different goals? How do you manage the disagreements between those who believe that the Eucharist is an in-person only deal, and those who are freely sharing it online? How do you manage those (in the United States) working to keep the deaths from the coronavirus as low as possible, and those who want to ramp the economy up, to stave off more suffering?
I’m holding on to this one thought…
Conflict is where the magic happens. Conflict brings the energy to build solutions. Conflict (that which is not toxic) is where creativity, cooperation, and collaboration happen.
So maybe we will not all be in agreement, but rather than getting mired in the feelings of defeat, of anger at one another, of doubling down to win, just for today I’m going to see conflict as a challenge—one I can manage and overcome—a challenge to find the magic, to seek generative solutions, to build community rather than destroy it.
Lady, if it ain’t leaking, it ain’t running! Join me?
Where will you go with this week’s Narrative Lectionary?
- How about focusing on the Acts passage and the “tentmaking” aspect of being the Priesthood of all believers? Could you then talk about the joys of friendships in ministry?
- What about the power of the cross that Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians? Was the power of the cross forgiveness, or eternal life, or was it the creation of unity? For those of us in post-evangelical churches, how do we define the power of the cross?
- In this week’s WorkingPreacher commentary, Mary Hinkle Shore writes, “As Paul will say explicitly in chapter three, to be “united in the same mind and the same purpose” (1:10) is largely to give up on the idea that leaders matter (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:5-7, 21-23).” How do we view the coronavirus in light of this text?
Wherever you go with this week’s text, I pray you are blessed with rest and peace.
Rev. Lia Scholl is not-that-kind-of-Baptist preacher and pastor in Winston-Salem, North Carolina (U.S.) and is the author of I Heart Sex Workers (Chalice Press, 2013).
RevGalBlogPals encourages you to share our blog posts via email or social media. We do not grant permission to cut-and-paste prayers and articles without a link back. For permission to use material in paper publications, please email revgalblogpals at gmail dot com.