The Apostle Paul had a big job on his hands while acting as a consultant to the factionalised Christian community of Corinth.
He appeals to theology, rhetoric and personal investment as he attempts to bring healing to human divisions based on status, party allegiance and ambition. It all sounds rather too familiar.
Our reflection today leads us to 2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10, a window into Paul’s approach to bringing about reconciliation. Did it work? History on this particular phase of the story of the church in Corinth is silent. The fact that Paul’s rather disjointed Corinthian correspondence is included in the canon of Christian scripture, however, indicates that by about the 4th Century CE, his words were deemed universally worthy of classification as sacred writ.
In today’s passage, Paul appeals to the restored relationship with God through the acts of Jesus Christ as the unifying beacon to draw fractured parties together. Of course, this is another text that is employed to support the “original sin” doctrine, (only by the grace of God in Christ are we saved from the wretched state that fragments us, and boy, aren’t some of our sins here in Corinth original!). The text can just as easily, however, be interpreted through the exemplary atonement or “free will” lens. (Salvation – aka healing of division – is found by looking to the example of Christ in drawing people together – behave as Christ behaved, love as Christ loved, be enlivened by his Spirit that dwells within and amongst you, and the appeal of factionalism will melt away).
Succumbing to passive acceptance of human hubris will not heal the divisions in our community. Only alert awareness of the role to which the awakened are called in exemplifying the manner of the perfect love enacteded and revealed through Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, infiltrating the community as salt and light, will do the job.