If anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do the churches of God. (1 Corinthians 11:16)

There was a battle during my childhood that divided friends, family, and even the church “the Cola Wars.” Coke vs. Pepsi was a genius marketing ploy that didn’t really cause fighting, but it did illustrate how a simple product created contention in society by getting people to choose a side. Coke vs. Pepsi had been a battle since the late 1800s and it gave people a reason to at least argue why one was better, why one was their favorite and why the other opinion was wrong. Maybe that was the real issue, people just like to argue and be right. Outside of soda, this happens in churches, too. Should we allow hats to be worn in the worship service? Do we use our paper Bible or digital Bible? Is it the Family Center or the Gym? (See Scott Smith if you would like an answer!) Little things can cause a fight if we allow them.

Of course, this happened in Corinth and that is why we are still talking about it today. Culturally, there were practices that made sense for Romans, Greeks, Jews, Gentiles, etc., and those practices began to mesh and sometimes clash in the early church to the point people came to church with a grudge against one another (maybe someone has stolen your parking spot on a Sunday morning?). Paul knew Satan would take that foothold and rip a huge hole into the heart of the church. If they were not careful, a little contention over head coverings and prophesying grow into full-blown division. Paul gave some really simple advice I will sum up this way- make it work, we don’t have a standard practice established yet. I think 2,000 years later we still have to make things work for the sake of unity in some practices in the church right now.

Here is how I relate to this passage personally. God has done two funny things in my life that helped me “make it work.” There are two things I never thought I would be as a pastor, in charge of Resonate or Youth Ministry. But God put me in positions to let go of some of my practices and he blessed me beyond what I could ask for by allowing me to step into those ministries. My life has changed for the better because the Lord let me choose unity over contention, preference, and practice. In light of the passage and the heart of verse 16, where are some areas God might be asking you to build unity in the church? Praying for us all, hope God blesses you today.

Pastor Jeremy Johnson

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