“For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?” (1 Corinthians 3b)
What do you think the essence of the gospel should be? Reaching your full potential? Health? Prosperity? Patriotism? The believers at Corinth thought the essence of the gospel was the manifestation of the spiritual gifts of speaking in tongues and prophesy as well as the tolerance of sinful lifestyles. Consequently, they thought they had achieved perfection. They boasted in their superiority. They thought they had godly wisdom, discernment, and insight into the deepest spiritual mysteries. They thought they were showing mercy by tolerating blatant sin in some of their members. Consequently many of them behaved in a haughty arrogant manner which left them blind to all their faults and sins, among which were self-aggrandizement, a party spirit, and disunity.
Sounds quite a bit like the American Church these days which is split over many things including political ideology. Some Christians support one party and disparage the other often with malice, spite and venom, convinced of the righteousness of their cause. But the fact is, the gospel of Jesus, as Paul reminds us, does not consist of partisanship or national or church politics. We are commanded to pray for those who govern us as an act of obedience to the Lord (see Romans 13, Titus 3:1-2, 1 Peter 2:13-17). We are commanded to pray even for those who mistreat and abuse us (Matt. 5:43-44).
Paul chastised the saints at Corinth for their carnality, spiritual immaturity, and pride and he would do the same for most of our contemporary churches. He would take great pains to show us that we are behaving according to the flesh and that we should take no pride in such behavior. Therefore, we ought not be proud of our own divisiveness, partisanship, or tolerance of any sin. The cause of the Kingdom of God should take first place in our lives. We do this by imitating and obeying Jesus through acts and words of compassion, mercy, and kindness. We ought to build each other up in Christ and seek to demonstrate to the world the love, peace and unity of the Holy Spirit. That unity and love is exactly what all men and women desire. The church should be the place where they find it.