If any of you has a dispute with another, do you dare to take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the Lord’s people? Or do you not know that the Lord’s people will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, do you ask for a ruling from those whose way of life is scorned in the church? I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? But instead, one brother takes another to court—and this in front of unbelievers!
(1 Corinthians 6:1–6)
Disputes and lawsuits between believers over what Paul found to be trivial broke out within the Corinthian church and he spent a good portion of his first letter to that church rebuking and correcting them about how to handle conflict. For one thing, Paul was concerned that disputes and lawsuits would lessen the church’s ability to share the gospel in a convincing way because non-believers would be put off by the internal squabbles. And secondly, Paul saw that the disputes were distracting the church from what was essential—Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection—and thus inhibiting their commitment to keeping Christ at the center of their lives and community. In other words, the convictions and preferences of the individual believers, instead of creating a pathway to Jesus, were creating barriers for people inside and outside the church.
Convictions are the strong beliefs we hold about how we ought to live based on our understanding and interpretation of Scripture, our internal wiring, and our life experiences. What are your strongest convictions about living as a follower of Jesus in our world today? Where did those convictions come from? How did they come to be convictions?
Preferences are the beliefs we give advantage to over other beliefs. How would you describe your key preferences? How did they come to be your preferences?
Take a few minutes in silence and ask God to show you whether you are allowing your convictions or preferences to act as barriers to people inside or outside the church. What did God reveal to you?
God, thank you for the convictions and preferences you’ve planted in me through your guidance and my experiences. I pray that if there are any convictions or preferences that I hold or express that distract from or fail to point people to Jesus, you would show me. Help me release, for the love of others, anything that might act as a barrier. May I always, only be someone whose posture and spirit is invitational and centered on Jesus. Amen.