Editor’s Note: Today’s AMI QT Devotional is written by Jabez Yeo. Jabez, a graduate of University of Pennsylvania, is currently working in NYC and serving at TRPC-E. He hopes to become a missionary.
Devotional Thoughts for Today
I (Paul) therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
The media often portrays conservative Christians as being not too intelligent. A while back, a prominent writer for TIME magazine quipped that Christian conservatives are “poor, uneducated and easy to command.” While I hope that’s not the case today, I know for a fact that it wasn’t so in the early church when some of the best and brightest minds led the new faith.
The 2nd century church spent much time combating Gnosticism, which proposed that Christ’s work on the cross was “purely spiritual…and that the human life and death of Jesus played no role in redemption.” Irenaeus effectively refuted Gnosticism by using passages such as Romans 5. Olson writes, “Because Christ is the second Adam…; God reverses Adam’s life that resulted in corruption. For Irenaeus, Christ provided redemption by going through the entire scope of human life and…reversing the disobedience of Adam….” This was an essential point that Irenaeus emphasized, as it established redemption as a process of restoring creation rather than escaping creation, as in Gnostic heresy. Through Irenaeus, Christian theology became rooted in the truth that without Christ’s full divinity and humanity, salvation is impossible.
Because of his influence, Irenaeus was called upon to resolve all types of conflicts. One such non-essential conflict was the Quartodeciman controversy, which centered around whether Easter should be celebrated on Passover (the Quartodeciman position) or on Sunday. After much debate, Victor, the bishop of Rome, was so fed up with the Quartodecimans that he excommunicated them from the church. Although Irenaeus believed that Easter should be celebrated on Sunday, he admonished Victor to preserve unity in the body of Christ. For Irenaeus, the fact that the Lord’s resurrection was being celebrated by both parties was sufficient.
As Christians, may we not only learn from Irenaeus’ writings but also from his eagerness to “maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Let’s pray for wisdom to engage in essential conflicts and to preserve unity otherwise.
Prayer: Lord, as I often engage in arguments and conflicts for the sake of doing so, give me the wisdom to fight over what is crucial and the discernment to look over non-essential issues. Help me to mediate the conflicts around me with Your peace and love. In Your Name I pray. Amen.
 Olson, Roger. The Story of Christian Theology: Twenty Centuries of Tradition & Reform.
Bible Reading for Today: Psalm 17
Lunch Break Study
Read 1 Cor. 1:10-12: I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. 11 My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. 12 What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul?
Questions to Consider
- What appears to be the problem described in the above passage? What would be its modern equivalent?
- What is so sad and tragic about this problem?
- What realization is necessary in order to keep the believers with a strong conviction from beating each other up?
- The Christians who favored or followed different Bible teachers became divisive probably because they insisted that their teacher was more biblical and spiritual than others. This would be equivalent to Calvinists and Arminians arguing over who is more faithful to the Scripture.
- The believers, while arguing over matters relating to the Bible and God, end up losing their Christian testimony before the world. It shows that the Christians are no different than the feuding politicians and contentious businessmen.
- They have to realize that Christ cannot be divided, that no human teacher can be placed above Him. Sometimes, the best policy is to agree to disagree, and leave it at that. As long as we agree on the essentials of our faith, we have reason to maintain the Christian unity in Christ.
As you wrap up this day, think about those situations that are slowly dividing your family and/or church: Are you part of the problem or solution? Please spend some time in prayer to ask God what to do. If you are the one causing the division, repent and ask for forgiveness; if not, then, ask God for boldness to address the divisive individual. Remember what Christ said: “I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity” (Jn. 17:22-3).