7 Pauline Lessons That Can Help Our Denominational Discourse

1. “When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation.” (1 Corinthians 14:26)

Simplify our worship, prayer, and community time.  Let’s make everyone feel welcome.  Be aware of anything that makes worship an insider experience.   Joy doesn’t need jargon.

2. “Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection.” (Romans 12:9-10)

Love is the guiding principle of the Christian tradition. Be reticent in labeling people or ideas as evil. Focus on love, goodness, and mutual affection. This is hard.  However, it’s all we have. Who needs another option when love is on the table?

3. “What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us?” (Romans 8: 31)

“These things” are our lifeblood. We talk “these things” to death. Our “things” are important, and there is much to be determined. If we’re working in conjunction with God’s will, why are we so concerned with being right? In our search for allies, have we neglected the greatest ally of all? The determination of rightness rests with God.

4. “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing the glory about to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18)

This moment, these decisions, and these arguments will all be history. Something better, in the eschatological sense, is inevitable. If we believe that the arc of history is bending toward reconciliation, we’re on the crest.  Let’s stay put.

5. “Therefore, since it is by God’s mercy that we are engaged in this ministry. We do not lose heart.” (2 Corinthians 4:1)

Our ministries are defined by mercy. We exist in mercy and work by mercy. Are there plans or ideas that embrace mercy to a greater extent than another? In mercy, we see the light of eschatological hope. If we find mercy we find God’s will.

6. “Look at what is before your eyes. If you are confident that you belong to Christ, remind yourself of this, that just as you belong to Christ, so also do we.” (2 Corinthians 10:7)

We all belong to Christ. Look for Christ in those with whom you agree and disagree.

7. “I pray that you may have the power to comprehend with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses all knowledge so that you may be fulfilled with the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 4:18-19)

Humility is hard to embrace.  We should study humility every day. Paul’s prayer that we may be fulfilled (find enough) in God’s fullness is a reminder to embrace humility.  If we’ve made enough space for God’s fullness, there is less room for our egos.

Richard Lowell Bryant